RAYMOND – During a special meeting Monday night, the Raymond Central Board of Education voted to intervene in a lawsuit regarding a proposed chicken barn near the junior-senior high school.
Sunset Poultry and Wayne and Charlene Greve are suing Lancaster County and the Board of Commissioners to reverse their decision not to allow a special permit for an eight-barn poultry farm operation that would be located about a mile from the school. The commissioners voted 3-2 to deny the permit last November. A month earlier, the Lancaster County Planning Commission approved the project.
The poultry operation would provide chickens for the Costco plant in Fremont. The proposed operation is backed by Lincoln Premium Poultry, a Fremont company that was established in 2016 in collaboration with Costco to serve as the poultry management company for the plant.
“The board unanimously voted to intervene on behalf of Raymond Central Public Schools on the lawsuit,” Dr. Derrick Joel said Tuesday morning.
The school district will offer testimony and evidence to support the Lancaster County commissioner’s decision to deny the special permit. Joel said the district has numerous concerns regarding the chicken barns, which would house up to 380,000 chickens.
One of the highest concerns is the safety and well-being of the students and staff at Raymond Central High School. Joel said the chicken farm could bring a high volume of traffic to the country roads, which would endanger young drivers.
The amount of water that would be used by the poultry operation is also a consideration, Joel said. The district has five wells, but they are concerned that the chicken farm would pull down on the existing water table, reducing water to the school.
Potential air pollution is also an issue, according to Joel. The superintendent said there are a number of students that have respiratory issues that could flare up if pollutants from the chicken barn are in the air.
Joel said the district has been against this proposed poultry operation from the start, and that they have not been given answers to issues they have raised during numerous meetings with county officials.
“We as a school believe that our interest has remained the same since the conversation started,” Joel said.
The school district will retain Domina Law Group for the intervention. Joel said the school board approved spending up to $40,000 on the lawsuit.