Chillicothe City Council members gave unanimous approval to a conditional use permit for Mystic Land Development, LLC, to operate a tilapia fish growing operation business at 601 West Highway 36, the site of the former Wal-Mart store.

Council members heard from company representatives David Buttman and Randy Constant during the council's regular meeting Monday evening at City Hall. Mystic Land currently operates a fish growing operation in Trenton and a large operation in Colorado. The company will now put together specific drawings for the business and apply for a building permit to be approved by city's codes department.

The company representatives stated that the fish growing operation would be an organic operation and that no chemicals would be used. They explained that there would not be any waste, because the waste generated by the fish would be filtered out and used as fertilizer for the company's greenhouses. The greenhouses would be built on site for the growing of vegetables.

Buttman stated that the fish would weigh between 1.25 and 1.5 pounds at harvest and that they would be transported live to the Colorado facility for processing. The representatives stated that there is a large demand for live haul.

When asked why they chose their proposed site over a location in the industrial park, Constant stated that price and the amount of interior open space were the primary reasons for choosing the vacant Wal-Mart building.

Council members raised questions regarding the possibility of odors coming from the facility, excessive noise from air filters, and its close proximity to the senior center. Chillicothe zoning department representatives Tammi Venneman and Donnie Vandevender said they met with the owners at their Trenton facility, and did not observe any odor from outside of the building. Buttman stated that there would be no odor problems.

Constant said that a considerable amount of money is being invested, and they want this to be a profitable operation and an asset to Chillicothe. The property in question is currently owned by a trust, and he stated that he is trying to purchase the property.

It is expected that there will be six or seven employees initially at the fish growing operation, and later, possibly between 15 to 20, when greenhouses are built.

No one spoke for or against the request during the planning and zoning board's public hearing last week, and the board voted unanimously to recommend approval for the request.

As approved by the council, the conditional use permit has the stipulations that the permit does not run with the land nor inure to the benefit of any subsequent owner, that the applicant complies with all requirements and concerns raised by the city engineer, that the applicant obtains all required permits as required by the state of Missouri, that the applicant submits a final site plan showing property lines, easements, setback requirements and similar information prior to construction of any outdoor greenhouses, and that the applicant complete the purchase of the property prior to March 1, 2013.

The operation would be regulated and inspected by the Missouri Department of Conservation.