The long-awaited approval of the redevelopment contract for the Sustainable Beef packing plant took place at a 9 a.m. meeting Thursday in City Hall by the Community Redevelopment Authority.

The redevelopment contract officially clears the path for the plant to be built and activates a tax increment finance bond of $21.5 million.

CRA member Rob Stefka said it’s taken a great deal of time to reach the approval, and there is still a long way to go in the development of the plant, which will be one of the largest independent beef packing projects in the country.

The CRA also approved redevelopment contracts for another set of apartment buildings at Lakeview and West A. Forty more homes are planned in five apartment buildings on the north side of the 80 homes that opened this year in the “Victory Village.”

There was no discussion of either project during the meeting, which took less than 15 minutes.

The Sustainable Beef redevelopment contract stipulates that the company must invest at least $300 million in the plant and hire employees legally, according to terms presented at a CRA meeting in March.

Also, the contract calls for Sustainable Beef to pay for street improvements (notably on Golden Road) as well as water lines. The company must have a performance bond guaranteeing the improvements on public right of way will be built to city specifications and they must have insurance.

Supporting documents for all construction expenditures must be placed on file with the city, CRA attorney Mike Bacon said in March.

The TIF bond amount will likely be used to pay the basic costs, including the upfront cost of moving and compacting dirt to raise the elevation of the plant well above the flood plain. The contract also sets odor standards. Essentially, the plant must control odors as well as a similar plant in Kuna, Idaho, Bacon has said. If there is a significant odor event that can be detected a mile from the plant, the company must remedy it.

At the March meeting, Bacon noted that the city has a “Nasal Ranger” to measure odors.

The obligation to repay the bond is solely Sustainable Beef’s. If they fail to make the payments, they will be assessed a penalty equal to the unpaid balance.

The cost of the project, once expected to be $300 million, is now thought to be around $325 million if not more, due to the inflated costs of materials, fuel and supplies.

In related developments on Monday, the Lincoln County commissioners approved two locations – on a hill north of the city and on a hill southeast of the city — for soil and sand to be removed and hauled to the Sustainable Beef site. About 47,000 semi -truckloads will reportedly be needed. Work was underway Thursday building an access road for trucks into the site.

The ground-breaking ceremony for the plant is tentatively will occur at 2 p.m. on Oct. 4 at Venue 504 in downtown North Platte. Gov. Pete Ricketts will attend, as well as Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Adrian Smith.

© 2022 The North Platte Bulletin. All rights reserved.