A new permit approved by the Elk River City Council would allow for expansion that could include the following: a new dairy facility including additional warehouse space and increased parking in the front of the building (No. 1), additional parking (No. 3), a new laying hen facility including additional warehouse space (No. 4), a new feed mill including additional warehouse space (No. 5) and a new laboratory including additional office, warehouse, and parking spaces. All new buildings would be of the same material as existing structures.

The Elk River City Council approved an amended conditional-use permit for Cargill that will allow for the expansion of the Minneapolis-based agricultural giant’s local research facility and create 25 more jobs in the process.

Cargill asked the city to change the permit in February to accommodate  potential expansion and long-range planning.

“We are pleased with the decision by the Elk River city council to approve potential expansion plans," said Tim Loesch, the director of communications for Cargill Animal Nutrition. "No final decisions have been made on the expansion at this time.  Our Elk River innovation center is an important part of our organization, and we are pleased with our partnership with the City of Elk River.”

In its request to the city for the change, Cargill said the Elk River facility supports the company’s global animal nutrition business. As that business grows, the company’s request reasoned, it needs more research and more space where it can do that research, so it asked the city to change the permit to allow for a larger facility in Elk River.

Cargill has done agricultural research in Elk River since 1958, the company’s website says. A Cargill representative could not be reached for comment.

The amended conditional-use permit will add a total of 33,325 square feet to the facility located at 10462 165th St. NW. It will also add 300 animals and 25 jobs. More specifically, it will allow for a new dairy facility, a new laying hen facility, new research labs and more parking. Planning documents said the expansion will come near commercial and industrial businesses on the west and south and near residential property on the north, east and west.

City documents said the item passed the Planning Commission with no comments for or against the facility and that there were also no public comments on the item. No comments were made during the public hearing at the City Council meeting Monday night, either.

Council Member Jennifer Wagner said she heard some concern from residents about animal smell. BreAnna Simon, a planner from the Planning Department, said none of the members of that commission had any concerns about smell because they realized that the activity would be close to the railroad tracks.

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