Before restarting operations, a Clark water bottling facility will have to show Park County planning staff that its septic system is working properly. That was the primary requirement imposed after a …
Before restarting operations, a Clark water bottling facility will have to show Park County planning staff that its septic system is working properly. That was the primary requirement imposed after a lengthy county review process.
Scott Northrop, who’s looking to acquire and restart the American Summits water brand, had originally hoped to have all of his Park County permits in place by June. However, the county’s planning and zoning board took a couple months going over the proposal before sending recommendations back to the commission in August.
Planning staff ultimately recommended a few conditions — including requiring the business to prove the septic system is working and to limit the water bottling operations to no more than 10 employees working in 10-hour shifts.
But the proposed restrictions and the length of the process drew criticism from both Northrop and Forward Cody CEO James Klessens, who’s been assisting with the project.
“We’ve put a bunch of requirements on an application that simply says, ‘We want to do what we’ve always done there,’” Klessens told commissioners at their Aug. 20 meeting, noting that water has been bottled at the site for many years.
Northrop, meanwhile, said none of the conditions were fair.
“To limit me to the number of employees I can have, to limit me to 10-hour shifts to make money, I mean, I don’t know whose staff recommended that, but no business owner is going to get involved into a business being limited that way,” he said.
Park County Planning Director Joy Hill explained that special use permits — which are required for activities that are generally out of the ordinary in a particular zoning area — often put limitations on hours of operations and the number of employees. Hill thought the proposed language would allow everything that Northrop has discussed wanting to do at the site, but he said he simply didn’t want to be limited.
Commissioners ultimately removed the cap on the number of employees and lengths of the shifts.
“I question us trying to stipulate how a business can be run,” said Commissioner Lloyd Thiel.
Thiel also wanted to eliminate the requirement that Northrop prove the septic system system is functioning correctly — Northrop argued that system is working fine and that the testing was an unnecessary risk and expense — but the rest of the commission wanted to keep the condition. Hill said photos from the site and other evidence indicates the system may have failed.
“The simple fact of the matter … is we do have regulations,” said Commissioner Lee Livingston. “If we’re going to have regulations we need to work with those regulations — and our regulations say proof of adequate septic [is required].”
Livingston added that, “I would hope that we can be fairly flexible on what proof is to get this facility up and running.”
The commission unanimously approved the permit.