Costco’s proposed chicken processing plant in Fremont, NE may come
paired with a lawsuit if the activist group
Bold Nebraska has anything to say about it.
The group is threatening to sue, claiming that part of the agreement between
Fremont and Costco
violates the Nebraska Constitution. Bold Nebraska believes that the part of the agreement where Fremont will
pay for nearly $200,000 of engineering services in order to prepare for
Costco’s chicken plant is an illegal loan.
Along with their issues over the financial agreement between Costco and
Fremont, Bold Nebraska is opposing the plant itself over environmental
concerns, as well as concern over the low wages paid in the poultry industry.
With the potential for more than 350,000 birds to be processed every day,
the group has also voiced concerns over potential diseases like the avian flu.
Omaha, NE-based HDR Inc. was hired to complete design and engineering services
related to bringing wastewater and water services to the proposed plant
south of Fremont after submitting the lowest bid in a competitive bidding
process. According to city officials, they are not extending any credit
or providing a loan, Costco is simply reimbursing Fremont for the $195,825
it will cost taxpayers.
Domina Law Group’s Brian Jorde, who is representing landowners, said
in an email to The World-Herald that, “It sounds like an interest-free loan to me. What is so foreign
about the concept that for-profit enterprises should pay for their due
diligence rather than taxpayers?”
Former City of Omaha attorney Ken Bunger believes that this type of payback
is common under a subdivision or redevelopment agreement, which Fremont
intends to pursue in order to complete the Costco project. No agreement
is currently in place, but it will likely encompass the millions of dollars
in costs related to extending the city’s utility services to the
plant, including electric, gas, sewer, and water.
A Fremont Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for Monday June 20 in
order to debate Costco’s proposed chicken processing plant, and
a City Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday June 21. The meetings
will include a presentation about the project for Costco officials, and
large crowds are expected to be in attendance.