Over the opposition of hundreds of residents, the Washington County Board on Tuesday night approved four of six industrial chicken operations intended to supply the new Costco plant in Fremont.

Two applicants pulled their requests at the meeting, which exposed strong feelings on both sides.

One of the farmers who pulled his request, which had been rejected earlier by the Washington County Planning Commission, said he felt let down by his neighbors, who have been “downright mean.”

But neighbors believe their health, quality of life and property values are at risk if the massive barns operate nearby.

Amy Penny of Arlington worried about truck traffic and the safety of her family.

“Who’s going to pay for my funeral? Who’s going to pay for my kids’ funerals? It’s going to happen,” she told the board.

Farmers sought conditional use permits to operate the large-scale chicken barns near Arlington and Blair. The chickens would be raised for slaughter at the Costco plant, slated to open in late 2019.

All of the permits approved by the board had earlier been recommended for approval by the Planning Commission.

The board granted Erik and Calli Soll a 50-year conditional-use permit on a 4-3 vote. Each of the Solls’ broiler barns could house up to 47,500 chickens.

Another proposal from Adam Wrich that would bring four breeding barns — up to 65,000 total chickens — north of Blair was approved on a 5-2 vote despite heavy opposition.

Bob Hill, owner of the River Wilds Golf Club, said the Wrich barns would be roughly 700 yards from the golf course.

“We don’t want to be known as the golf course next to the chicken farm,” Hill said. “Any smell will kill our business.”

Case Camenzind, who had planned for eight chicken barns just south of Blair, withdrew his application at the meeting. Earlier this month, the Planning Commission had recommended against a permit for Camenzind’s plan after hundreds of residents showed up to testify against it at that meeting.

Camenzind told the board that he was disappointed in the County Planning and Zoning Departments. He said they didn’t object to his plan until just before the commission met publicly. He said his neighbors have been “downright mean,” but he still intends to win approval.

“We will be before you again. We will prove that we are good neighbors and good people with genuine intentions,” Camenzind told the board.

Erik and Calli Soll said in their successful pitch that the barns would allow them to diversify their operation and return to farming full time.

Rod Royuk, a landowner near the Solls’ proposed operation, said Tuesday night that he was concerned about the wear and tear on nearby roads from increased truck traffic going in and out of the operation.

“Can Washington County afford to foot the bill on this kind of use?” he asked the board.

Also approved late Tuesday were an operation by Andrew Ruwe and another by Jeff and Kelli Shaner.

A operation proposed by Amy Trinh near Herman also was withdrawn Tuesday. Like Camenzind, Trinh did not receive a recommendation for approval from the Planning Commission.

Get the latest development, jobs and retail news, delivered straight to your inbox every day.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Commenting is limited to Omaha World-Herald subscribers. To sign up, click here.

If you're already a subscriber and need to activate your access or log in, click here.

Load comments

You must be a full digital subscriber to read this article You must be a digital subscriber to view this article.