An Elk Processing operation has Liberty neighbors upset. While we have heard bits and pieces of the issue, this Charles Trentlemen article spells it all out as only Charles can do.
From the 10/25/11 Standard Examiner:
Here is an excerpt from the article:
Garet (Jones) said his grandfather actually owns the 6.15-acre plot, but put his children's name on the deed to make inheritance simpler. He said Rulon, his father, has no connection with the butchering operation.
Garet and Lance say their butchering meets all health and zoning codes and qualifies as agricultural use in an agricultural area.
(Sandi) Tuck, who lives two houses north, has been vocal that the cutting operation is not legal.
Tuck said she has served on local planning councils for years and disagrees that the cutting operation fits the definition of "agricultural."
"They are not connected (to the adjacent ranch), and that makes them totally illegal," she said Friday. "That makes them a commercial meat-cutting business in the middle of a residential agricultural district.
"Their side yards, their front, everything is totally illegal. They do not have parking."
(Bret) Barry, the neighbor immediately north of the Jones property, said the situation just doesn't look right to him.
"This is a residential neighborhood -- you know, with children -- and I don't believe what they've applied for or the way they've applied for it is within the ordinance," he said. "As far as I know, they've applied for family use and have begun commercial slaughter."
In a legal brief about the dispute filed with the Utah State Property Rights Ombudsman, Barry's attorney, Jodi Hoffman, states that the meat-cutting operation violates zoning, will create noise and smells and is "contrary to the public interest."
The Weber County Planning Commission approved the use in September. Early this month, the commission approved its business license.
Expecting troubleWeber County Planner Scott Mendoza said he knew the case had potential for dispute when Garet Jones' request came in.
"It would certainly be a commercial use if he was opening up a butcher shop," Mendoza said, but the Jones family also raises elk on that parcel.
"So he wanted to continue raising elk and be able to cut the elk meat," Mendoza said, but the elk would actually be killed somewhere else.
"To be honest, I looked at that and said, 'This is one I'm going to sit down with the entire staff and talk about it.' "
What the staff decided was that the county's zoning ordinance definition of "agriculture" was so broad, they needed to narrow things down.
In the Utah State Code, Mendoza said, agriculture is defined as "the science and art of the production of plants and animals useful to man including the preparation of plants and animals for human use."
Further definitions show that "preparation" includes cutting and grinding meat from livestock. "Livestock" includes domesticated elk.
Mendoza decided that fit what the Joneses were doing, but said he also knew it was a matter of reading definitions.
"We also looked at it from the other point. What if we didn't issue? These things can be turned around ... " and the Jones family could challenge him."So you can see the county was in a bind," Mendoza said.
(Attorney Jodi) Hoffman, representing Barry (a neighbor), said the county did "results-oriented" research, meaning it wanted the answer to favor Jones and looked for a way to justify that outcome.
"I think the county clearly fudged in favor of the applicant," she said. "They kind of grabbed definitions that fit their purpose."
Hoffman said the county planners interpreted broadly and in favor of the Jones family, when the planners clearly should have defended the neighbors instead.
Here's your chance Ogden Valley. To Butcher or Not? That is the question.