By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Plans to expand a chicken farm west of the Twin Cities have caused a stir among neighbors.

Forsman Farms of Cokato wants to build a new facility in Stockholm Township that would house more than a million chickens. But neighbors say that would have a negative effect on their quality of life.

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“The smell is constantly a problem,” neighbor Chelsea Smith said. “It can get pretty strong. Especially when it’s humid.”

Smith lives close to the current Forsman Farms operation. She said when the company was looking to expand a few miles up the road with nearly a million and a half chickens, she became concerned.

“We don’t want other people to deal with what we do on a daily basis,” she said.

It’s not just the number of chickens that would be on site that’s causing concern — neighbors are worried that the amount of water being used would greatly increase while their home values decrease.

That’s why Smith joined Max Anderson and other neighbors to form the Stockholm Township Concerned Citizens Group. They want Forsman Farms to scale back on their plans or drop them all together.

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“We want to make sure our water is clean,” Anderson said. “We want to make sure our air is clean. We are going to be increasing a lot of traffic. They’re trying to tell us the smell will be minimal, but these are just projections.”

Peter Forsman said his family’s farm has been in Stockholm Township for 4 generations. Because of the demand for cage-free eggs, he said the expansion will include up to 8 new barns to keep up.

“We’ve taken a lot of steps to make a big difference in our environmental impact,” Forsman said.

Forsman said state of the art ventilation, and a process in which they pelletize the manure, will help cut down on odors and emissions. He said the new operation would use 50,000 gallons of water day- which is comparable to a 9-hole golf course. Forsman added that the new operation would also bring 35 new jobs to the area.

“With this cage-free option we are excited to try something new and provide eggs to customers who want and see a need for cage-free,” Forsman said. “The things we are doing environmentally — we are one of the first and one of the only that are doing it to help not only our community, but the environment around us.”

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Forsman Farms still needs to get approval from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and also the township board before they can begin construction. The Township’s planning and zoning board could vote on the plans in April.

John Lauritsen