Chicken ranch approved by county planning commission

By Hank Lohmeyer


The Delta County Planning Commission has recommended approval for the Kuntz Chicken Ranch specific development application.

Commission members, however, added a couple of conditions.

First, the commission suggests the Board of County Commissioners "considers" that the application plan include some kind of provision for short-term manure storage on site.

Second, the county planners would like the county commissioners to resolve a regulation dispute regarding adequacy of the storm water discharge and erosion plan submitted with the application.

The project's owner/applicant, David Kuntz, DVM, of Redlands Mesa, told the planning commission that dry manure from the 20,000-hen organic egg laying operation would be cleaned from the barn every 14 months and applied to his hay fields. The owner of a nearby composting operation, Tom Kay, said he would be able to quickly remove any manure that might have to be kept in storage for even a short time.

Still, members of the planning commission suggested the county commissioners consider an on-site manure storage option. The BoCC is scheduled to hear the specific development application Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. in the commissioners' meeting room.

The second issue raised by planning commission members was on the adequacy of Kuntz's storm water drainage and erosion plan. It was a knotty issue for the planners, county staff and the applicant.

Among the points raised by Kuntz and his attorney, Ben Wegener of Grand Junction, during a lengthy back-and-forth exchange with the planners and county staff were:

• The county has not been forthcoming with stating reasons it sees the storm water drainage plan as inadequate.

• Correspondence with the county attorney has yielded no clarity on the issues, either.

• The storm water drainage plan submitted with the specific development application is done by a professional engineer with a letter attesting to its accuracy.

• The Kuntz operation is not required to submit a storm water drainage plan under state regulations because it is under the 25,000-bird threshold for requiring a plan.

• The plan is a review of existing drainage management structures including ditches and a retention pond.

• The plan is not intended for construction of new drainage structures and therefore, noted Ken Nordstrom, county environmental health director, it need not be as detailed as a new construction plan for a contractor to work from.

County engineer Bob Kalenak questioned the adequacy of the storm water drainage and erosion plans on several points, stating the runoff flow capacities don't pass muster with the county's regulation requiring an engineered plan.