LIVINGSTON -- Foster Farms is set to begin the expansion of its rendering plant, which is expected to create six new full-time jobs and more tax revenue for the city and county.
The City Council approved the expansion on a 4-0 vote during an Aug. 17 meeting. Mayor Daniel Varela Sr. abstained from the vote since he works for Foster Farms.
The rendering plant processes material the poultry producer generates, said Jim Marnatti, Foster Farms director of environmental affairs. What would otherwise be waste is converted into a protein meal for pets and other products.
Foster Farms' facilities do produce odor that can be noticed in Livingston, a concern for some residents and city officials.
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However, the expansion of the rendering plant isn't expected to increase it, Marnatti said.
"This will be a fully enclosed, state-of-the-art project," he said. "It is not anticipated through any reviews to have any significant impact on odor or on the environment in any fashion."
Features that make the expansion state-of-the-art include emissions control, a negative air system similar to a whole-house fan, scrubber systems on the roof and a high-intensity odor-control system that's 99 percent effective in controlling emissions going through it, Marnatti said.
To prevent odor emissions, no material will be exposed to the air, he added.
Foster Farms officials don't expect an increase in odor, but they do expect an increase in tax revenue.
The expansion is expected to provide the city with an additional $30,000 a year in tax revenue and more than $80,000 a year for the county, Marnatti said.
Foster Farms isn't changing what it does at the plant, just expanding its operation, he said. The existing building, which is about 6,300 square feet, will be expanded by 2,500 square feet.
The rendering operation produces about 30,400 tons of poultry meal and 30,000 tons of poultry fat every year, according to a site plan review by the city.
The rendering plant expansion is expected to add 29,600 tons of finished product, including 16,000 tons of feather meal every year, according to the review.
The project, which successfully negotiated provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act, has received approval from various environmental outlets, Marnatti said.
"It was surprisingly well supported," he said. "We received strong support by regulators, including the Air District."
Despite the promises made by Foster Farms representatives that there wouldn't be an increase in odor, Mayor Pro Tem Frank Vierra still had concerns.
His questions mainly revolved around the odor the plant produces and what recourse the city would have if it got worse.
Before voting to approve the expansion, Vierra made his thoughts known.
"However I vote tonight, I better not hear down the road that you voted this way or you vote that way," he said. "I hear the olive branch being passed."
During the Aug. 17 meeting, former mayors Brandon Friesen and Gurpal Samra both stepped to the lectern to offer their support of the expansion.
Samra pointed out that if two people who are usually on opposite ends of the political spectrum could agree on a project like that, it must be a good deal.
"We need to mark this day in history," he joked. "Former mayor Friesen and former mayor Samra are in agreement on something."
Foster Farms is still working to complete building permits with the city for the expansion, Marnatti said. Construction is expected to be finished within a year.
Reporter Mike North can be reached at (209) 385-2453 or firstname.lastname@example.org.