City of Lemoore officials cite serious concerns about proposed cattle feedlot

By The Leader Staff
City of Lemoore officials cite serious concerns about proposed cattle feedlot

City of Lemoore officials this week responded to a proposed 826-acre cattle feedlot and slaughterhouse south of Highway 198 and west of Highway 41, sending a strongly worded letter to the Kings County Community Development Agency expressing its "serious concerns" about the proposed project's potentially "very negative impact" on the livelihoods of the City's residents and the operations and investments of the City's businesses.

The proposed site for the 12,600-animal feedlot and beef harvesting plant is in the City of Lemoore's sphere of influence established by Kings County LAFCo (Local Agency Formation Commission), an agency designed to do so to control the boundaries of cities and most special districts.

It will also be located directly adjacent to the Lemoore city limits. The combination of the magnitude of the proposed project combined with its closeness to a large, urbanized area greatly concerns local officials and residents.

A California developer, farmer, and water buyer, John Vidovich, is seeking approval from Kings County to build the beef feedlot and a processing plant just a stone's throw from the Lemoore city limits and West Hills Community College Lemoore.

In December, Vidovich filed an application with the Kings County Planning Commission for a slaughterhouse and a feedlot for up to 12,500 animals.

Local officials, including Lemoore council members and residents, have expressed their serious concerns with a feedlot close to the City and the community college. Former West Hills College District Chancellor and current councilmember Frank Gornick, who helped bring Lemoore's campus to fruition, was not pleased with the proposed project. "We have one of the premier colleges in the country, and they want to put a slaughterhouse right next to it," he told The Leader.

In his letter to the Kings County Community Planning Commission, Lemoore City Manager Nathan Olson said the size of the 215-acre feedlot would be about one-third the size of the existing Harris Ranch feedlot located at the interchange of Interstate 5 and State Route 145. However, that project is far from an urbanized area.

The City of Lemoore's, with an existing population of 26,235, population – if built, the proposed project – would have one animal for every 2.2 Lemoore residents living together. "This will not be acceptable to the residents of Lemoore," Olson stated in the letter, adding that the City wholeheartedly supports the agricultural industry in Kings County.

"However, we are not aware that the County has ever approved an animal confinement facility of any kind, especially such a large facility, within the boundaries of any city's sphere of influence. Doing so would appear to be a deviation from the past practice of placing these facilities far away from urbanized areas."

City officials recommend that a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) document and evaluate the project's land use incompatibility with adopted City, County, and LAFCo policies regarding spheres of influence and the County's adopted policies for siting of outdoor confined animal facilities and beef harvesting plants. An EIR (Environmental Impact Report) should also evaluate whether an alternative location would be better. Since the project proponent (Vidovich) owns numerous properties within Kings County away from urbanized areas, the proposed use does not need to rely on this particular site to meet its project objectives.

Incompatibility with City General Plan

The City of Lemoore also objects to the proposal based on the City's adopted General Plan. Currently, the Lemoore General Plan has established two land use designations on the proposed site. The northern half of the site is slated as suitable for business, technology, and industrial reserve (sometimes also referred to as Employment Reserve).

The Land Use Element of the City's General Plan describes the planned land uses for this area as follows:

"Business, Technology, and Industrial Reserve. This classification provides for planned development in the area southwest of the SR-198/SR-41 interchange to accommodate long-term employment needs. Uses may include research and development, office uses, high-tech uses, light industrial and warehouse uses, support commercial services, and limited retail sales. Non-residential buildout is assumed at a FAR of 0.15."

In his letter, Olson cited numerous impacts  that a feedlot might have on the local community, including  the presence of special status species in the area around Lemoore and vehicle impact, dust, odors, and air quality on Lemoore citizens, all of which would have to be studied including:

  • The project's impact on special status biological species.
  • Impact of vehicles, such as large commercial trucks moving cattle and processed cattle.
  • Any environmental impact would also analyze the impacts of dust, odor, and air quality on Lemoore's citizens.
  • Any studies would also have to analyze the impacts of aquifer contamination due to ammonia and nitrates.
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