At the Fremont City Council meeting Tuesday night, members of the public faced standing room only as approximately 90 people gathered to learn more about a project that, if proposed, would rezone an area north of Fremont for the construction of a chicken feed lot.
Several of the citizens at the meeting expressed concern about the project that, until Tuesday night, appeared to be only rumor.
However, during the mayor’s comment period of the meeting, Mayor Scott Getzschman reported that discussion between the state of Nebraska, Dodge County, the Greater Fremont Development Council, and other municipal entities such as the Fremont Department of Utilities have been working together to actively develop an agricultural project that would further the economic development of Fremont.
The mayor informed those present at the council meeting that public meetings regarding the project were just beginning and only in the preliminary stage.
“This project through it’s job creation, capital investment and opportunity for rural agricultural producers would positively impact our region’s economic base and quality of life,” Getzchman said.
He also added that the project, when completed, would add approximately 1,300 employees to the region while providing a significant economic impact to the region, measurable in millions of dollars.
The project is known as Project Rawhide and more information can be found online at the Greater Fremont Development Council website.
“There will be an opportunity for conversation and comment from the public as we move forward with this project,” Getzschman said. However, he added that he and other council members could not discuss the details during council because Project Rawhide does not yet exist as an actual project; for that reason it has been left off the agendas of recent council meetings.
Within the next 48 to 72 hours Getzchman stated that residents within the neighborhoods near the proposed project site would be contacted with further details about the project.
The absence of the Project Rawhide’s from City Council agendas was cause for much of the public’s misgivings on Tuesday night at the Fremont Municipal building.
Several Fremont residents, like John Wiegert, who addressed the City Council, wondered “why is everything so secretive?”
Craig Corn, also of Fremont, agreed with Wiegert’s concerns stating that, “Someone knows something about it and we as citizens of this county want to know about it.”
Jay Berry and Denise Richards, who both live north of Fremont also agreed that the details regarding Project Rawhide seemed to “be under the table” and they both hoped for a more open and transparent sharing of information in the future as plans and details moved ahead.
The mayor closed his comments by stating that “It is a great project for the state of Nebraska, it’s a great project for this region.”