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Omaha (NE) World-Herald reports:

The cost and size of Costco's planned chicken processing plant in Fremont have grown since the city approved a redevelopment plan with the retailer in July.

The Fremont City Council tonight will vote on an amended plan that reflects the changes, including an increase in the amount of tax-increment financing available.

The change would represent about a 50 percent increase in the cost of the plant; tax-increment financing would rise by slightly more than one-third.

Expenses eligible for such financing include site preparation and construction of electric, water, gas and wastewater lines, wastewater treatment lagoons and streets. TIF is a way of using future property tax revenue to pay for public infrastructure associated with private development.

The City of Fremont is facing a lawsuit from residents who say the City Council violated the law by declaring productive farmland "blighted and substandard" for the purpose of opening the door for tax-increment financing for the project.

Costco plans to build a chicken hatchery, feed mill and slaughter facility to supply chicken to its stores.

The plant is now proposed at 360,000 square feet, up from 250,000, and the hatchery would be 85,000 square feet, up from 75,000. A 32,000-square-foot feed mill is also included.

The total cost of the project would be $275 million, up from $180 million. About $18.3 million of the construction cost would be paid for through tax-increment financing, up from $13.5 million.

A plant official told The World-Herald that key reasons for the size and cost increases include enclosing the live bird receiving area for animal welfare and biosecurity reasons; accommodating additional processing equipment to minimize worker injury; adding a visitor observation area; expanding the size of employee locker rooms and restrooms; and increasing the size of the employee cafeteria.

Outside the plant, planners look to increase the size of a loop road for trucks delivering corn to the feed mill, elevate the plant site out of the flood plain, and resolve needs identified in traffic studies, the official said.

The Fremont Planning Commission on Dec. 19 recommended that the council approve the amendments.

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