- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 21, 2016

FREMONT, Neb. (AP) - The Fremont Planning Commission has approved plans to annex land so Costco can build a large chicken processing plant on the south side of the eastern Nebraska community.

The commission heard several people speak Monday night in favor or against the planned plant, which would process up to 350,000 birds daily. But commission members themselves made little comment during the three-hour meeting and declined to ask additional questions before unanimously voting to pass the annexation on to the City Council with a recommendation for approval. The council is expected to take up the issue Tuesday night.

Supporters spoke of possible economic development. Costco and Georgia-based Lincoln Premium Poultry have said the plant would employ up to 1,100 people, and area farmers would grow the chickens in about 400 barns for Costco.

“This is vital to our town, to our future and to our growth. I’m tired of hearing people say why aren’t we keeping up with Norfolk and Columbus,” said Marlin Brabec, a real estate agent who also grows corn and soybeans.

But some opponents questioned whether it would be beneficial to the local economy.

“Are they (the future workers) going to be able to afford homes?” Dawn Weigert said.

Opponents also raised concerns about corporate livestock ownership, the potential for diseases such as avian flu and the potential impact on schools, housing and roads.

Earlier this year, the Nickerson Village Board voted against the plant being built between Nickerson and Fremont.

There are two beef packing plants outside Fremont city limits.

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