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Bell & Evans gets Lebanon County LERTA exemption

The former Keystone Protein rendering plant property, now owned by Bell & Evans, will be the site of the Lebanon County organic chicken production company’s new $80 million rendering plant. A new 50,000-square-foot hatchery is also planned for an adjacent parcel of land. - (Photo / Amy Spangler)

The Lebanon County Board of Commissioners today approved a new Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance exemption for a proposed Bell & Evans expansion in Bethel Township.

A LERTA exemption allows businesses to pay tax on improvements to a property on a sliding scale over a set period of time. The Bell & Evans LERTA is for 10 years, with property tax on the improvements increasing by 10 percent each year. It will pay no tax on the improvements in the first year, 10 percent in the second year, all the way to 90 percent in the 10th year. After the 10 years, it will pay full real estate tax on the property.

The chicken-processing company has proposed to build a chick hatchery on about 40 acres of land across from a 113-acre parcel it also owns on Chestnut Hill Road.

Bell & Evans already has a LERTA exemption on the 113-acre parcel to build a rendering plant on the former Keystone Protein property. That is where the chick hatchery originally was to be built. But the company said because of recent demand and growth it bought the 40-acre site to accelerate the opening of the hatchery.

Construction on the 50,000-square-foot hatchery is expected to start in the fall and be ready for production in the spring of 2016. Currently in the design phase, company officials expect to spend about $8 million to $12 million to build the hatchery.

The company is about to finish the $44 million expansion of its processing plant on Route 22, with an expected move-in time of May. Full production is expected in the fourth quarter.

Michael Sadowski

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