I’m not taking a side; I just have some questions. I repeat, I’M NOT TAKING A SIDE–yet! I want more information to form an informed opinion.
First off, a complaint–Why did Great Falls Area Concerned Citizens plan an informational meeting about this important county-wide issue on Tuesday December 5 at 6:45 pm when there’s a regularly scheduled Great Falls City Commission meeting the same day at 7 pm? Didn’t they think to check whether there were other important meetings going on? Commission meetings are posted months in advance. Or did they know and just not care that some people might want to attend both? Now those people have to make a choice. City commission only meets twice a month. You’d think this group would try to avoid those times. Just another example of the poor planning which has become Great Falls modus operandi.
Mr. Nikolakakos, you’ve stated it’s opportunity for Friesen to “ship Canadian animals to the US and obtain USDA certification while avoiding more stringent labor and environmental rules.” An “opportunity” does not equal a done deal. Do you know the livestock laws well enough to make that statement? What about the local ag producers? Have we heard from them? What’s their level of interest and involvement in this project? Will they utilize this facility?
You also stated, “The submitted application calls for over a billion gallons of water usage a year from the Madison aquifer, putting area wells and water quality at risk.” That sounds like a heck of a lot of water, I grant you that and it sounds potentially harmful. But where is the data that it would be harmful? If you want to fight this, you’re going to need more than speculation. It also seems that the MT DNRC would look at this regarding the potential of affecting water rights of others in the basin. Any word from them?
You also wrote, “Prior to 2017, this plant could not have been approved under agricultural zoning regulations. This was until CEO Edward Friesen recently visited county offices. After the meeting the county, coincidentally, began amending our regulations to match virtually word for word what Friesen needed.”
Okay then, I want to hear more about the meeting between Friesen and county. Did he meet with the county commissioners? Did he meet with county staff? At which meeting did the commissioner vote to change the zoning regulations to match what Friesen needed? If it happened the way you claim, it is perhaps the biggest part of this story.
Isn’t this facility now an allowable use under county zoning? Therefore, wouldn’t some part of their application need to be deficient in some way for the county to refuse to approve it? Deficient in that it doesn’t follow county codes, zoning regulations or is likely to break a law? I don’t believe an unpopularity contest amongst county residents can legally stop it. But then again, I’m not an attorney.
For someone who is an intelligence analyst in the military and therefore should be well versed in critical thinking skills and the use of logical arguments, I’m a bit disappointed in the argument as you’ve presented it. It appears based more in the emotional, rather than the analytical.