Stop Front Range Feedlot expansion; Larimer County proposes 14,458 head CAFO.
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Front Range Feedlots (FRF) is proposing, and Larimer County staff is supporting, a Confined Animal Feedlot Operation expansion to allow 14,458 head where only 9,500 head are currently permitted. The planning director has already given written approval for the 4,958 head expansion as a “Minor Deviation.” The County Commissioners are going to hold a hearing either to support of reverse the director’s decision. Not only is this deviation not minor, but Front Range Feedlots is already confining approximately 17,000 head on their 9,500 head Use by Special Review permit. The environmental impact of the feedyard if approved for 14,458 head will be detrimental to the area surrounding the feedyard. The dust coming off the feedyard inundates surrounding homes and makes its way all the way down to Wellington. This makes the air quality higher in dust and particulate matter, something that no one should be forced to breathe in. Adding 4,458 head allowance of cattle to the current 9,500 is a 52% increase in the amount cattle and of dust created for the neighboring community to tolerate. The petition enclosed is an appeal to the County Commissioners and planning department to first enforce the original Use by Special review before any consideration of expansion is forced upon the Citizens of Larimer County.
Facts to support the claim:
1- FRF has continued to expand since 1978. In 1994 they were questioned by Larimer County regarding expansion, the feedyard stated they would not exceed 9,500 head without County Review. At present they are confining about 17,000 cattle.
2- Larimer County Land Use defines “Feedyard” as a confined enclosure for the feeding and fattening of livestock where the average number of livestock exceeds ten animals per acre of feedyard and where less than 50% of the roughage type feed is raised on the same farm premises. The proposed use is clearly a feedyard, yet FRF is trying to define its use (and staff is supporting this) as a simple farm premises by counting additional, adjacent acreage to “water down” their cattle density from the current 138 head per acre to less than 10 per acre. This is a mis-application of the Code.
3- Staff is also mis-applying the Code regarding the Minor Deviation. Minor Deviations are appropriate where technical, engineering or other considerations arise during construction or operation, and they must comply with the Code and be consistent with the intent of the original approval. Here, allowing the headcount to exceed the original approval by 52% is neither a consideration nor in line with the intent of the 1978 approval, which was to cap the headcount at 9,500. In fact, the original approval, from 1977, only allowed a headcount of 2,500.
4- Inconsistencies- When the applicant first submitted for a Feedyard in 1977 he owned all the adjacent land in which Larimer County is trying to count as farm to water down the cattle density. The applicant also owned the same land in the expansion in 1978. If the applicant was subject to a Use by Special Review for 2,500 head in 1977 while owning 1,200 acres adjacent to the feedyard, they should be subject to a Use by Special Review for a 4,958 head expansion today.
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