The North Bend Eagle

 

Hearing
Bruce Williams of Morse Bluff, with his wife Amy by his side, makes his case for his plans to build 12 chicken barns. An overflow crowd attended Monday night’s hearing in Wahoo..

Morse Bluff chicken operation one step closer to reality

by Lincoln Arneal
Published 9/11/19

WAHOO — After a three-hour discussion, the Saunders County Planning Commission voted 4-2 to approve an application from Bruce and Amy Williams for a 12-barn chicken operation on their farm south of Morse Bluff.

The meeting Monday night at the Saunders County Courthouse in front of a reporter-estimated standing-room-only crowd of 140 people wasn’t lacking tension, drama or passion. In the end, the approval happened, but with a few strings.

The commission recommended transferring the gravel road leading to the facility to the county’s control rather than the local precinct, adding a retention pond to the property to help deal with water runoff, adding a fire department hookup, planting trees at least three feet tall on all sides and subjecting the property to an annual review.

Bruce Williams said all of the comprises are reasonable and he’s glad to have passed this stage of review.

“I’m glad we got it through because we need it for animal agriculture,” Williams said after the meeting. “We can do all those conditions. It won’t be a problem. We can make it work.”

Now the matter goes to the Saunders County Board of Supervisors meeting on Sept. 24 for final approval. The Board can follow the recommendations from the Planning Commission or throw them all out.

Discussion of the chicken barns began just after 8 p.m.

The meeting was the second time the commission discussed the matter after it was first considered and tabled Aug. 5. Acting chairman Norm Nelson set the ground rules, asking that only new material be covered and to not rehash arguments made at the previous meeting.

Williams began by addressing the two main objections from the last meeting: the increased traffic on the three-eighths of a mile of gravel road from the farm to the highway and what would be done with the chicken manure. Andy Scholting from Nutrient Advisors answered questions about how the manure would be spread over 3,600 acres of Williams’ farmland.

Williams also said the barns would add $82,000 in tax revenue that would go to the North Bend school district, Saunders County, Morse Bluff Township and other local entities.

The members of the commission questioned the water runoff issues created by the approximate 10 acres of roofing.

After Williams and his team were questioned for 40 minutes, seven proponents of the project spoke. Representatives from the Nebraska Soybean Association, Nebraska State Dairy Association and Saunders County Corn Growers all spoke in favor of approving the application.

 

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