A family hoping to raise chickens for Costco and Lincoln Premium Poultry has submitted a new application to build poultry barns in Nickerson, nearly a month after the Dodge County Board turned down its previous proposal at the same location.
On Feb. 19 at 4:30 p.m., the Dodge County Planning Commission will again consider a proposal from Lee and Pamela Camenzind, seeking a conditional use permit for a poultry operation that will be operated by their son Case and his family. The Dodge County Board of Supervisors will then consider the proposal at its Feb. 27 meeting at 9 a.m.
This time, however, the Camenzinds proposal will call for eight barns instead of 10.
After the Camenzinds’ original 10-barn proposal generated controversy and hours of public comment at a Jan. 16 public hearing, The Dodge County Board of Supervisors denied the permit in a 4-2 vote.
Supervisors who voted no suggested the Camenzinds return with a proposal consisting of fewer barns to address resident concerns about traffic safety and environmental impact.
The new application also includes plans for a vegetative buffer along the north and west sides of the proposal, according to Dodge County Zoning Administrator Jean Andrews. But aside from the number of barns and the buffer, the application is largely similar to the original, Andrews said.
During consideration of the original proposal, the Planning Commission had recommended approval for the project, but added three conditions: that the applicants include a shelter belt or buffer on the north and west side of the facility, that they develop a road maintenance plan with Nickerson Township and that they move the driveway into the facility to the east or south side.
The vegetative buffer was included in the new proposal to address the Planning Commission’s request for a buffer, said Jessica Kolterman of Lincoln Premium Poultry.
No changes were made to the application regarding the other two conditions, which dealt with road safety and maintenance, though Kolterman said that the county board has been gathering more information regarding road safety in the area. She said she expects that “issues related to road maintenance and road safety will be addressed in the hearings.”
At its Jan. 31 meeting, the county board acknowledged that it had started to monitor traffic levels in the area surrounding the barn site. Many residents had expressed concerns about how additional truck traffic near the facility might impact Country Road O and crossings with area highways.
“Everybody’s talking about all this traffic,” said Supervisor Lon Strand — who voted in favor of the project — at the last board meeting. “You can say anything you want, but until you have a traffic count, it’s not real. So I thought this is a way to put a number and possibly a fact to an issue.”
The proposed barn site sits on a parcel of land west of Nickerson, boxed off by County Road O to the north and County Road 22 to the east.
At the Jan. 16 hearing, residents expressed a variety of concerns about the proposal: the environmental impact of chicken litter produced and applied as fertilizer at the site; the potential odor; the impact on property values; the impact on traffic safety and road conditions; and the size of the proposal.
Speaking in Fremont last month after the project was denied, Gov. Pete Ricketts expressed support for the Camenzinds’ efforts, and urged the county board to work with the Camenzinds “to try and get those permits available to get that up and running.” He suggested that Costco’s operation will provide new economic opportunities in rural areas, and said that the Camenzind’s proposal is part of his “grow Nebraska strategy, trying to keep our young people in our rural areas.”
The project is the Camenzinds’ second attempt to bring a Costco-related project to Nickerson. In 2016, Costco tried to establish its chicken processing plant in Nickerson on land that Lee Camenzind owned, though local opposition forced Costco to consider other options.
Costco’s chicken plan, located in Fremont, is expected to go online later this year.