The Great Falls Area Concerned Citizens group hosted a public forum on Tuesday evening to voice their concerns about the proposed Madison Food Park.
Friesen Foods, LLC, acquired approximately 3,018 acres of undeveloped real estate several miles southeast of Great Falls. The project will include a processing plant for cattle, pigs, and chickens, and the related further processing facilities for beef, pork, and poultry. The project will also incorporate facilities for the processing of milk, supplied by regional dairy producers into a variety of cheese products; and a distillery which will source the grain necessary for the production of Montana-branded spirits from cereal crops grown in the region.
Developers expect that when the project is fully operational, it will directly create about 3,075 jobs, along with as many as 85 supporting jobs in the surrounding community.
But some residents of the Great Falls area are opposed to the project for reasons involving what they say are water contamination, waste, property values, and even the smell.
During the meeting, guest speakers from the Montana Environmental Information Center and the Upper Missouri Water Keepers said that the quality of water and air will be almost unbearable.
Janet Halko lives adjacent to the proposed site, and says nothing Friesen Foods can do will change her mind.
"There’s a lot of issues with it. For one the smell and the water usage. It is going to take so much water to run it that it will affect our wells and the ground water will eventually be polluted. The noise, the pollution, and the trucks that are going to be coming. I’m just not for it,” Halko said.
George Nikolakakos explained one of his primary concerns: "One billion gallons of water a year will be used. That’s what all the people in Butte use every year. They are adding the city of Butte as far as the water draw. It will come from three to four wells out of the Madison Aquifer."
Todd Hanson with Norsman Consulting Group says Friesen Foods is working on an amended plan that will be filed by the end of 2017 and will address many of the concerns being raised.
Hanson said, "In the amended special use permit application, the information related to water use and the initial projections of acre feet per gallon use per day and on an annual basis for the Madison Food Park campus will be significantly refined.”
Hanson said Cascade County will hold a public hearing after the updated application is filed.
Click here to read the submitted planning documents.
Here is the complete video of a presentation from Hanson several weeks ago discussing the proposal: