Lancaster County residents concerned over plans for chicken plant

At first, Curt McConnell didn’t think much of the notice he got in the mail about a commercial feed lot coming to the field behind his home near Southwest 128th and Salltilo Road.

He thought it might be for a few dozen cows – but it’s not. 

"Actually it’s for this huge chicken barn," McConnell said. "And that immediately threw us into panic mode." 

The barn he’s referring to is a proposed four-building facility that would serve as a supplier for the Costco chicken process plant in Fremont. 

It could house more than 100,000 chickens, and McConnell says that number could reach as high as 200,000. 

A special permit was approved for the building last week, which McConnell says caught him and his neighbors off guard. 

That’s why they’re joining forces – forming a group called the Lancaster Hills Alliance – to voice their concerns. 

"It makes me not want to have an appetite," said Ken Tesar, whose family owned the land the facility would be built on for generations. 

Tesar says residents have a host of concerns, ranging from environmental impacts and loss in property values to the nuisance the odor would cause for nearby churches and schools. 

"There are far-reaching effects that aren’t exactly obvious," he said. "So the best thing that could happen is if it gets denied." 

While the area around the proposed plant looks remote, around 70 families live in the vicinity, with several new developments being built in the area. 

The barns would be around 500 feet long, totally about the same square footage as two football fields. 

The Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission is scheduled to host a public hearing and vote on the issue on July 18th. 

If the Commission’s decision is appealed, the issue would go before the County Board. 

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