Saunders County

WAHOO – Members of the Saunders County Board of Supervisors are hoping to gain more insight into how poultry farms work by seeing one in person.

At their Aug. 13 meeting, board members discussed visiting a poultry animal feeding operation in a nearby county so they can be prepared for questions from the public.

An application for a poultry farm still lies in the hands of the Saunders County Planning Commission. The commission tabled the matter on Aug. 5 after a standing room only crowd of over 100 people attended a public hearing for an application by Bruce Williams to build a large poultry confined animal feeding operation near Morse Bluff in northwest Saunders County.

The three-hour meeting included an hour presentation by Lincoln Premium Poultry, the company formed by Costco to manage its chicken plant operations in Nebraska. Costco operates a processing plant in Fremont and has actively worked with farmers in a 60-mile radius to build poultry farms that will provide chickens for the plant.

The other two hours were filled with statements from people with a variety of concerns about the poultry farm, said County Zoning Manager Mitch Polacek. The planning commission tabled the application to have more time to go through the information. The matter will be taken up again at the Sept. 9 planning commission meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m.

If the planning commission recommends approval, the supervisors will make the final decision on the poultry farm. To make an informed decision, supervisors should get out and visit a poultry farm, said Supervisor Dave Lutton of Ashland

“It’s a good idea for people on this board to take a tour and see what they’re like,” he said.

Supervisor Ed Rastovski also suggested poultry farm operators could come to a future supervisors’ meeting so the supervisors could ask questions.

“We could have current farm owners come in and talk,” he said.

Supervisor Larry Mach of Weston said opponents are uninformed as to the way these poultry farms work.

“They had no clue what was presented,” he said.

Mach described some of the operations he’s seen in a poultry farm, including the complicated process used to deal with manure created by the chickens.

Supervisor Frank Albrecht of Valparaiso mentioned the application for a poultry operation in nearby Lancaster County that is “really stirring up neighbors.” He said the application is for eight barns that would hold about 47,500 chickens each. The operation would be located almost directly north of Raymond Central Junior/Senior High School at Northwest 27th Street and West Ashland Road.

The Raymond Central Board of Education passed a resolution to oppose the application during a special meeting on Aug. 7. About 30 residents attended the meeting to voice their concerns.

The issue will be on the Lancaster County Planning Commission agenda for their Sept. 4 meeting. If approved by the planning commission, it will go to the Lancaster County Commissioners for consideration.

Polacek also told the supervisors that the county’s regulations regarding poultry farms may need to be reviewed as well, but added that, if Williams’ poultry farm is approved, Costco/Lincoln Premium Poultry won’t need any more operations in the area.

(Staff Reporters Allan Christensen and Lisa Brichacek contributed to this report.)

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