HOWARD LAKE, M N Howard Lake City Council viewed a presentation about a proposed 140,000-square-foot egg processing plant in its industrial park during Tuesday’s meeting.
Peter Forsman of Forsman Farms said the proposed facility would encompass 22 acres in the second phase of the industrial park, which is located on the south side of the city.
The plant would be used to clean, sort, and package eggs.
The new facility would not have any live animals, according to Forsman.
It would be a fully-automated egg warehouse and liquid egg processing plant, which wouldl create about 75 construction jobs initially, and employ about 40 people year-round.
The facility would be built in two phases, the first of which would account for 75 percent of the project and be completed within 18 months of approval.
The second phase of construction, the remaining 25 percent, is part of a five-year projection.
The plant would operate eight-hour shifts regularly, unless demand requires more hours, but can’t process eggs for more than 14 hours per day, due to regulations.
“We have to stop operations for sanitation after no more than 14 hours,” Forsman stated.
About Forsman Farms
Forsman Farms has more than 2 million egg-laying chickens at three locations in Minnesota, and employs about 180 people.
Albert Forsman began the farm outside Howard Lake in 1918, with 120 acres of land.
He sold chickens from his flock for 41 years before passing the farm down to his son, Norman Forsman.
When Norman took over the farm, it had nearly 1,300 chickens, and he began selling eggs to local vendors and restaurants.
In 1974, Gary and Debbie Forsman took over farm operations, and managed a flock of more than 60,000 chickens for 25 years.
Now, Gary and Debbie still oversee farm operations, but Peter and David, the fourth generation of Forsmans on the family farm, handle the day-to-day items.
“The Forsmans have demonstrated themselves as upstanding corporate citizens, dedicated to bringing significant investment, job growth, and expanded tax base to our community,” City Administrator Nick Haggemiller commented.
The project approval process is extensive, and includes review of preliminary plat and site plan by the planning commission.
Over the course of the next several months, the council will consider the creation of a proposed tax increment financing (TIF) district, industrial user agreement for water and wastewater use, and a general development agreement.
City staff are actively working with the Forsmans and their engineers to determine water and sewer access details, and how to best accommodate the development.
The Forsmans will be considering a private well, which the council agreed to consider.
“When businesses like this come to town, it isn’t the goal of the city to make a bunch of money on water,” Mayer Pete Zimmerman said.
“Considering the amount of water they will use, I think it would benefit both of us if they have their own water,” Council Member Tom Kutz added.
The fees associated with the new TIF district will be funded through the development of several economic development projects in 2016, according to Haggenmiller.
The council will conduct a public hearing at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 19 regarding the new TIF district.
“The anticipated tax revenue to be captured for the economic development TIF district is approximately $1.5 million over nine years, and will be used to retire debt and pay development fees associated with the various projects,” Haggenmiller noted.
“This is encouraging for the city in terms of economic development ventures,” he added.
A proposed TIF district would include several projects in addition to Forsman Farms, such as a mini-storage development, which would almost complete the city’s industrial park development plan.
In addition, the TIF district would benefit other projects.
Munson Lakes Nutrition is considering an office expansion on its central campus in downtown, the former Greens of Howard Lake may have a potential buyer, and Good Samaritan Society has proposed a child care center near the Lodge of Howard Lake assisted living facility, according to Haggenmiller.
Odds and ends
In other business, the council:
• approved submitting a Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) grant application, which will be used to extend Commerce Blvd. in the industrial park, in order to provide city water and sewer to the rest of the development. The city will be required to match funds, so it is seeking $225,000 for the approximate $450,000 project.
• approved specifications and advertising for an ambulance purchase that is part of the Howard Lake Fire and Ambulance Service’s capital improvement plan for 2016. The estimated cost of a new ambulance, including chassis and equipment, is about $150,000.
• approved water and sewer fund budgets. A water fund loss of about $2,000 and a sewer fund loss of $35,000 are projected, including the increased rates approved by the council in January. The council approved a transfer of $35,000 from its general fund to its sewer fund, as well.
• scheduled a council retreat Wednesday, March 23 at 9 a.m. at Howard Lake City Hall.