ABERDEEN – A member of the community went before the Bingham County Planning and Zoning Commission Sept. 9 to request a Conditional Use Permit to allow a potato chip operation to start in the Aberdeen area.

Ladd Wahlen, owner and operator of Roots Chips, plans to build a small 40-by-60 foot facility that would employ up to five people to process potatoes and turn them into chips.

The plan to build the facility comes to fruition for Wahlen after he conducted a test of concept in the Boise area where he had a place to process and manufacture the chips. He then made partnerships with businesses, some in Bingham County, and started distributing the product to the consumer.

Roots Chips wears the Idaho Preferred label, expressing that it utilizes and sells Idaho products made by Idaho producers. Wahlen explained that they will continue to do their chips the same way they had been doing them while operating near Boise — the chips will be organic, kettle cooked, and made from Idaho potatoes.

Wahlen had to request the CUP because of the location of where he plans to have the facility. The area is zoned Agriculture, which does not normally allow manufacturing and processing within the zone. Because of that limitation, Wahlen requested the permit and provided extra data to the commission to make their decision easier. Wahlen has parking space established for any and all employees he would have to hire, plans for distribution of the product, and plans for how the deliveries will be made to the processing plant.

Wahlen has parking space across from where the processing plant will be located and will ensure that his employees utilize the space accordingly. As for distribution, he plans on having small delivery vans running routes to disperse the product to resellers — which is typical of most chip companies. Finally, they will have large one-ton containers full of Idaho potatoes delivered onsite to be processed.

Addie Jo Jackman, one of the county planners, spoke to the commission regarding Roots Chips, saying that Wahlen has received the go-ahead from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality because of the system they plan to use that will limit the amount of processing wastes that would go into the sewer or septic system.

She noted that they also understand there will be steam by-waste coming from the processing of the chips, but did not feel it would be enough to worry about with the small size for their program. Furthermore, other agencies that chimed in showed little concern about the location and the process they will be using including the Aberdeen Fire District as well as Sheriff Craig Rowland who expressed no concern over the new business. All local agencies provided their stamp of approval.

The commission had very few questions for Wahlen and opened the discussion to public hearing. Because there were none in the audience that wished to speak for, neutral, or against Wahlen’s request, the commission moved to provide the CUP with a unanimous vote.