BRIGHAM CITY -- A poultry operation that will bring an estimated 1,100 jobs to Box Elder County has settled down to such details as zoning changes and permit-gathering.
Brigham City and Box Elder County officials have pegged the chicken-
processing operation "Project Cogburn" -- in honor of the John Wayne movie "Rooster Cogburn." They've kept the project under wraps for about a year as details have been finalized.
Even now, after Project Cogburn recently submitted a request for rezoning land west of Brigham City, officials are still under a nondisclosure agreement and can't reveal certain aspects, such as the name of the business operator, said Paul Larsen, Brigham City's community and economic development director.
The $307 million operation will begin with phase 1 of construction of a poultry-processing plant on property known as the Reeder Ranch, west of Interstate 15 and south of State Road 13, across the freeway from the Vulcraft plant. Initially, the poultry operation is expected to provide 591 jobs in a single shift; as the operation ramps up to two shifts, the number of new jobs will reach 1,100, Larsen said.
Larsen said he anticipates construction starting in fall or winter this year.
"It's such a large project with so many moving parts that it depends on when everything comes together," he said.
Construction of all three phases is expected to last between 18 months and two years.
Phase 1 of Project Cogburn will be the chicken-processing plant, along with the corporate headquarters and a dog-food processing plant that will use by-products of the chicken-processing facility.
Phases 2 and 3 will be located in the county. Phase 2 is a granary to be constructed in west Corinne, close to railway access. This building will receive grain and process it as chicken feed.
Phase 3, Larsen said, will be what's referred to as "grow-out houses," where chickens are hatched and grown to maturity. These structures will be located in a remote area north of Little Mountain in central Box Elder County.
The Reeder Ranch, to be the site of phase 1, is a 300-acre property. Landowners have submitted an annexation petition to bring it within Brigham City boundaries, Larsen said. The petition is under review.
Although the poultry operation will be built on 80 acres, all 300 acres will be incorporated into an economic development project area that will be managed by the Brigham City Redevelopment Agency. City officials anticipate the additional acreage growing into an industrial park, a first for Brigham City.
"It's been somewhat of a disadvantage for us over the years that we haven't had a developed industrial park," Larsen said.
The designation as an economic development project area under the RDA allows what's known as tax-increment financing. First off, Larsen said, as the property gains value, property taxes are expected to dramatically increase. Those increased taxes, along with additional up-front investment by the owners, will allow the city to build the necessary infrastructure, such as roads, sewer hookups and electric lines. Then, the city will reimburse the owners over time to offset these costs. Box Elder County will also use tax-increment financing for the phases in the county.
The 80-acre poultry operation has applied for a rezone to manufacturing. The remaining acreage will stay agricultural and be farmed until the use changes.
The endeavor's chicken and dog-food processing has sparked some worries about its potential smell, Larsen said.
"People have concerns about odors, so that's something we're paying pretty close attention to."
He doesn't think, however, there will be an odor problem, because this operation differs from more traditional poultry-processing plants in such areas as technology.
Some people worry that the chicken operations will be similar to turkey-growing enterprises in Sanpete County, which are known for their pungent smells.
But Larsen said the comparison isn't valid. "Those are very different -- different management, different biology. It's just not the same thing."
It's an apples-and-oranges situation, he adds, "though in this case, it's turkeys and chickens."
There also has been concern about the city's ability to handle sewage.
"We've analyzed all these issues, and feel comfortable with them," Larsen said.
The poultry operation owners, all based in Utah, considered a site in Idaho before settling on Box Elder County. The story goes, Mayor Dennis Fife said, that the wife of one of the owners saw an ad for Peach Days and suggested the city as a potential site.
"Due to past experience, (the owners) got to thinking about Brigham City, and they initially contacted us and asked if we had enough water to accommodate a project of this size," Larsen said. "They told us they were working on another location and as they traveled back and forth, it occurred to them that maybe this is one they could do in Utah."