WAHOO – Two proposed projects in the area that would feed chickens to the Costco processing plant in Fremont have drawn a lot of comment.
About 100 people stuffed into the Saunders County Planning Commission’s meeting room Aug. 5 to offer comments about an application filed by Bruce Williams to construct a large poultry confined animal feeding operation in the Marble Township in northwest Saunders County.
Saunders County Zoning Manager Mitch Polacek said there were a variety of concerns voiced by those in attendance. Representatives from Lincoln Premium Poultry, the company managing operations at the Fremont plant, also had a chance for rebuttal to the concerns presented.
Polacek said the Planning Commission opted to delay a decision.
“They tabled it. It was midnight and there was a lot of information,” he said.
The commission, he said, wanted to more time to go through all of the information before making a recommendation to permit or deny the application.
The matter is scheduled to be on the agenda for the next meeting, which will be 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9.
A similar proposed project just across the Saunders County line in Lancaster County also drew attention last week.
The Raymond Central Board of Education called a special meeting Aug. 7 and unanimously passed a resolution to oppose a proposed chicken farm operation near Northwest 27th Street and West Ashland Road.
About 30 residents came to the board meeting. All but one spoke in opposition to the proposed barns on property owned by Wayne and Charlene Greve. This application was for eight barns with about 47,500 chickens in each barn.
Most residents who spoke in opposition cited their fears of an increase in truck traffic and the rise in water use in the area.
The chicken barns would be almost directly north of Raymond Central Junior/Senior High School.
Raymond Central Superintendent Dr. Derrick Joel said the school has some relatively unique problems that the chicken farm could exacerbate.
“The heart of what we do is about students first,” Joel said.
Like the district patrons who spoke, Joel’s main concern was water. He said the school relies on five wells to pump water to the school. As the school has grown, now with around 400 students, its demand for water has coincided.
He added that past searches for new water wells has shown that water in the area is scarce.
The other major concern brought up last week was roads and driving safety. Due to Raymond Central’s rural locale, Joel said that all students and staff must arrive via car or school bus and that the traffic would be an added danger.
The application letter written by Trevor Enstrom on behalf of the Greves and Josh and Tonya Bussard, addresses the probable increase in truck traffic. In the letter filed by Lancaster County, Enstrom said the chicken farm would average about 20 trucks per week. The heaviest traffic would be on the weeks when the chickens are to be taken to the facility in Fremont, when there would be about 62 trucks.
Currently, West Ashland Road is a minimum maintenance road and would require improvement, according to the report.
Saunders County Highway Superintendent Steve Mika has sent a letter to the Lancaster County commission saying that Saunders County would not “participate in any financial funding to construct, improve or maintain any portion of Ashland Road” near the proposed site.
Rock Creek Township has also declined to fix and maintain the road, rescinding a previous agreement to do so saying that the township was “misinformed.” The township said in its own letter that the operation would benefit Lancaster County and not Saunders County, like they initially believed when they made the agreement.
Over 100 opposition letters have been sent to the Lancaster County Planning Commission in regard to this application. About 20 letters have been written in support.
The application will go before the Planning Commission Sept. 4 in the County-City Building in Lincoln for a public hearing and a vote.
If approved by the commission it will then head to the Lancaster County Commissioners for consideration.