The Fremont, Neb., City Council unanimously voted 8-0 this week to amend expansion plans for the proposed Costco Poultry Complex, the Fremont Tribune reported.
According to plans submitted to the Fremont Planning Department, the processing plant proposed on 400 acres southeast of the city would grow from 250,000 to 360,000 sq. ft., and an associated hatchery would grow from 75,000 to 85,000 sq. ft. Plans also call for a 32,000 sq. ft. feed mill.
The expansions would increase the projected cost of the facility from $180 million to $275 million, according to the documents.
Based on the new cost, the Fremont Tribune said the development would be eligible for more than $18.3 million in tax-increment financing — almost $5 million more than originally projected.
A Fremont staff report estimated that the tax base added to Fremont and Dodge County, Neb., would increase from $63 million to $93 million based on the new cost. The new estimate of public infrastructure improvements and impacts also would increase from $180 million to $275 million.
The Fremont Planning Commission approved the plans at its Dec. 21 meeting and recommended that the Fremont City Council approve the amendment at its Dec. 27 meeting.
“Costco has done their due diligence. They’re revised their plans. Their plans got larger, and with that, the price tag got larger,” Fremont Mayor Scott Getzschman told WOWT Channel 6 News.
Getzschman said he has done his research. Additionally, he met with Costco officials and was informed that the larger plans for the plant are designed to address concerns and requests from the public.
Costco has said the proposed facility would be capable of processing 350,000 chickens a day and would employ 800-1,000 workers. Walt Shafer, project manager from Lincoln Premium Poultry, said the added square footage will also provide for better animal welfare.
During the Dec. 27 public hearing Tuesday, both proponents and opponents expressed their views, and representatives from Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry spoke extensively.
Shafer said the next step is to finish permits and start contracting chicken growers. The company hopes to start construction in the spring and to have the facility be fully operational by 2018.
Opponents, like Fremont resident Denise Richards, have vowed to fight the proposed project until the cement is being poured.
“Because Nebraska Communities United continues to fight quietly and behind the scenes, many people think we have given up. Not so. We are still researching, educating, informing and reaching more people,” she said in a letter to the Fremont Tribune just prior to the city council vote.