By The Leader Staff
Sheriff Dave Robinson and John Vidovich release pheasants in a Kings County inmate program earlier this year.
Sheriff Dave Robinson and John Vidovich release pheasants in a Kings County inmate program earlier this year.
Photo Courtesy Kings Sheriff's Department

Kings County planning commissioners, in their most recent meeting, approved a plan to build a beef harvesting plant on Highway 41, a revised project that originally envisioned an 826-acre project that included a beef feedlot and processing plant along Highway 41, just south of Highway 198, adjacent to Lemoore and West Hills College Lemoore.

Instead, the proposal from Sandridge Partners, the entity behind the project, will consist of just 135 acres, including a 72,000-foot building that includes an office area and the facilities needed to process feed.

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

At the time, the proposed project raised local eyebrows. According to some observers, as originally proposed, the facility was expected to hold a 1,000-cow feedlot (which can be developed upwards of 12,500 animals) and a slaughterhouse at the proposed site, within spitting distance of the city of Lemoore and West Hills College Lemoore.

City of Lemoore officials responded to the original proposal negatively. At least one council member told The Leader that he wasn’t opposed to a feedlot, but he insisted such a project didn’t belong near the city and college. And in a letter sent by Lemoore City Manager Nathan Olson, he cited numerous impacts that the originally proposed feedlot would have on the community, including vehicle impact, dust, odors, and air quality issues.

Vidovich apparently changed his mind and told Lemoore councilmembers that he would not go forward with the nearly 12,500 cattle feedlot but would pursue a beef-processing facility.

The proposed facility will be used to slaughter, butcher, process, and distribute bulk beef products. At capacity, the beef harvesting plant would harvest a maximum of 210 cattle per day.

Supervisor Joe Neves, who has been keeping a watchful eye on the process, told The Leader there likely may be additional requirements before the project is started. “It still has to go through federal USDA inspections. There are still some hurdles the operation will have to address,” he said.

Vidovich is well known in Valley circles. According to news reports, he runs Sandridge Partners, LP, a farmland investment firm that has accumulated more than 100,000 acres of Valley farmland in recent years.

Vidovich and Sandridge Partners have been a welcome presence to some in Kings County. His company has donated items to Stratford Elementary School and recently helped Kings County Sheriff Dave Robinson create a pheasant-raising and release program for jail inmates to earn credit.

According to published articles, Vidovich comes from a Silicon Valley family and bought his first Kings County property in foreclosure in 1994. He holds a little more than 100,000 acres in Kings County, 40,000 acres in Kern, and 10,000 acres in Tulare County.

He is also known for his water deals. Vidovich, in 2009, according to media reports, sold the rights to 14,000-acre-feet of state water from a Kings County water district to southern California for $73 million.

The new project site will be located at 19868 Jackson Avenue.