Residents suspect chicken house ground breaking without approved water source

 JOANN KALENAK, DCCR — Fruitland Mesa residents are seeing some curious activity in the neighborhood. After Commissioners approved the development of a 20,000-chicken egg laying facility contingent on the development of an approved agricultural water source, residents around the Knox Ranch are seeing ground being broken and wonder if the facility is going up illegally.
“They (County Commissioners) said nothing will be done with Knox until the water supply is met. I informed them that they have already broken ground,” says Fruitland Mesa resident Rick Pulley.
While the Knox family could not be reached for comment, County planning department head, Elyse Ackerman-Casselberry, assured DCCR that “Mr. Knox’s chicken operation has not begun, and will not begin until they are able to comply with all conditions of approval including establishing an adequate agricultural water supply. We are monitoring this and in constant communication with Mr. Knox.”
Meanwhile, residents on West Black Canyon Road are seeing semi’s carrying chicken feed race down the dirt road to destinations unknown. They are concerned that this traffic might be coming from the Knox operation.
Casselberry told DCCR, “We would remind you that there are numerous agricultural operations on Fruitland mesa, including several chicken houses in Montrose County off of Black Canyon Road.”
“The County did establish a haul route for Mr. Knox’s operation, but only Mr. Knox’s operation. The County does not have a haul route for any and all truck traffic that may be associated with the numerous agricultural operations in the area,” adds Casselberry.
DCCR has asked to review Delta County’s comments and recommendations in response to the Montrose County CAFO operations mentioned by Casselberry. Input from impacted neighboring communities is sought as part of the Montrose County application process.
DCCR also asked Casselberry to provide the traffic study required by the county’s specific development regulations for the Knox application.
Casselberry has not yet responded to our inquiries.
Photo courtesy Rick Pulley: View of the Knox Ranch from Black Sage Road looking east.