TWIN FALLS — A food-processing plant is one step closer to becoming a reality on Washington Street South near Glanbia Nutritionals.
The Twin Falls Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday voted unanimously to forward a positive recommendation to the City Council for a rezoning of the property. Gem State Dairy Products LLC has asked the city to rezone the farm ground from light manufacturing and residential to a heavy manufacturing zoning designation. The proposed food processing plant is under design, company representative Tom Mikesell told the commission.
The commissioners agreed the zoning conforms with the city’s master plan. Some residents, however, were skeptical based on the limited information they were given.
“I think the developers should be more forthcoming with exactly what they are planning to do,” said William Mills, an adjacent property owner. “I don’t know what they intend to process there... this is very vague.”
Alfred Kyle expressed similar concerns, worrying that property values could plummet and trucks could damage the roadway. Shirkel Silvester, who has operated the farm ground for years, voiced concern about making sure irrigation water was still getting to nearby farms.
Pete Johnston said he had the most to gain as both farm parcels were his property.
“We had it sold one other time and the economy kind of fell on us,” Johnston said. “I understand that there are several dairymen going into this.”
Dairyman Willie Bokma said the dairy industry is in dire need of more processing.
Mikesell has previously declined requests from the Times-News for more information, saying more would be released after the zoning is approved. He did, however, assure homeowners that Gem State Dairy Products will work with the city to mitigate noise and odors from the factory. It would also work to make sure irrigation water can get to nearby farms.
“We do want to be good neighbors,” Mikesell said.
A couple of adjacent residential properties are under contract, he said.
According to the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office, Hiram Finney is listed on the filing papers for Gem State Dairy Products LLC. He was previously registered with the company Rockin 31 Cattle LLC, which appears to be inactive.
Planning and Zoning Director Jonathan Spendlove told commissioners that the manufacturer may not need to come back before the commission. However, the board’s recommendation will go to the City Council for a final decision. Commissioner Ed Musser was not present at the meeting.
Also at the meeting, the P&Z commission heard a presentation on a request to allow for a 124-room, four-story hotel on the canyon rim between Petco and the Twin Falls Visitors Center. The hotel would be about 60 feet tall and come with additional parking on the north side of Petco. A public hearing is scheduled for Jan. 29.
The commission also:
- Reinstated a special use permit for a fourplex at 2140 Elizabeth Blvd., lot 26.
- Approved a request to vacate an undeveloped portion of Washington Street South right of way at South Park Avenue West, so the city can construct a parking lot for its public works department.
- Approved a request for a special use permit for a fourplex at 1969 Shoup Ave. E.
- Voted 6-2 to approve a special use permit to allow Subaru of Twin Falls to operate an outdoor amplified audio system at 1725 Park View Drive. Commissioners Danielle Titus and Gerardo Munoz cast the dissenting votes, expressing concerns about noise affecting nearby residential and assisted living properties.