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Shenandoah planners reject proposed slaughterhouse

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- A Mt. Jackson man's efforts to build a chicken slaughterhouse met opposition from neighbors and the Shenandoah County Planning Commission on Thursday.

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend the Board of Supervisors deny a special-use permit requested by Edwin and Dana Wilson who want to build and operate a 600-square-foot slaughterhouse at 4154 Conicville Road near Pleasant View Road. The site for the proposed slaughterhouse lies adjacent to several homes and Pleasant View Church.

"I just don't like the idea," Charles Coleman said at the public hearing on the permit request, who expressed concern about keeping the animals corralled and the environmental impacts of the facility.

Planning commission members echoed some concerns raised by speakers, including whether the county could limit the number of chickens the slaughterhouse could process at any given time, and keep the owner from expanding the plant in the future.

Edwin Wilson explained to the commission the slaughterhouse would process up to 200 free-range chickens per month. The process includes plucking, eviscerating, cooling and packaging the poultry. Customers could buy processed, packaged poultry from the facility, Wilson said. The property already features farming operations and Wilson said he would feed fowl with corn grown on his farm.

Residents who live near the site expressed concern to commissioners about the potential impacts of the operation on the watershed, including Painter's Run which flows through the Wilson property. Speakers raised concerns about whether the operators of the facility would keep the chickens contained and some people alleged that turkeys have roamed off the property and into the road on occasions. Neighbors also expressed concern over the odor that could eminate from the facility.

Jill W. Griffin, who operates Inanna Kennels in Mt. Jackson, told the commission she once drove on the road adjacent to the Wilson farm and nearly struck a "stream" of guinea hens that had walked from the property into her path. Griffin also questioned the use of water by the facility and then the impact of the effluent released by the slaughterhouse.

Katherine Foltz, of 234 Bauserman Lane, adjacent to the proposed site, also expressed concern for the stream.

Wilson responded to questions about whether he had the finances to start up and run a slaughterhouse facility, saying he had the money to do so.

As Zoning Subdivision Administrator Joyce Fadeley explained a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector would need to remain on site for any slaughtering operation. A question arose over the cost to the operator for the inspector's services and Wilson told the panel the agency charges only for the slaughtering of 400 chickens or more.

The Virginia Department of Transportation has required the property owner to create a new entrance to the facility south of the current ingress to remedy an issue of sight distance, according to Fadely. In reference to the proposed facility's distance to Painter's Run, the site lies approximately 300 feet from the stream or 100 feet from the 200-foot buffer.

The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality rejected the option to allow the facility to collect the blood from the carcasses and store it in a 1,000 gallon tank, Wilson told the panel. Instead, the agency has recommended the process call for collecting the blood and composting the liquid with the offal.

At least one planning commission member questioned what state or federal agencies would monitor the slaughterhouse operation for its impact on the environment, the nearby stream, the creation of odor and making sure the animals did not run free from the facility.

After the public hearing, commission member Mike Davis suggested that, given some concerns about the proposal and lingering questions about agency oversight, the panel table the permit request. But before he could make a formal motion, member Leon Smith reiterated concerns posed by speakers and then made a motion to recommend supervisors deny the permit request.

"I don't see the need for a lot of small chicken slaughterhouses," Smith said, adding that larger, combined operations would be easier to monitor.

After a second from member Hilda Vann the panel voted unanimously on Smith's motion.


"The property already features farming operations " now that is funny! I wonder why a picture of the property wasn't given along with the map.

The pollution coming from these horrible slaughterhouses will eventually destroy our rivers and land. Once the environment goes - you will finally see the results of these filthy death camps.

Only after the last tree has been cut down,
Only after the last river had been poisoned,
Only after the last fish has been caught,
Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.

- Cree Indian proverb

The denial is a good thing. Mr. Wilson should stick to his plumbing business and minding his sons.

Yep his sons are modern day "chicken thieves".

His sons have nothing to do with the article above. And more importantly, they have served their time & paid their dues.

I hope that Mr. Wilson can address the concerns his fellow neighbors & community have expressed; and is able to follow through with his ideas.

Remember to support your local farmers & business owners!

I am one of Mr. Wilson's sons. If fighting for your neighbors freedom, while serving in Iraq, qualifies me as a chicken thief, then I guess I am one.

If you served, I absolutely appreciate your service and thank you for your service! If you stole, no level headed mind will ever trust you. One more, do you think your father, with his history with animals, should be allowed operate a slaughterhouse?

There's nothing on public record of any violations for animal abuse or neglect. I'm not sure where that claim could come from. As to the processing of chickens, the decision only means that he can't process for commercial use and that he will likely go ahead with the plans for personal uses. That means no oversight at all from local government. Better idea in my book.
Support your local farmers and business owners!

Luke, your service is commendable and of the four of you, it would seem you live on the straight and narrow in comparison. However, your younger brothers have tarnished the family name with their fighting, burglarizing and thieving and in an area such as Shenandoah County, this will be remembered for generations. Heck, a few days ago while passing through Conicville, I saw one of your brothers riding a dirt-bike on the highway. No respect for the laws, his neighbors or himself.

As far as the allegations of the maltreatment of animals, the only time things have to be proven is in a court of law. Just because you cant prove it doesn't mean it didn't happen.

With the name your family has earned by the actions of your younger brothers, if Ed want's to pursue farming, he would have a much easier time of it a few counties away.

You would think something like animal neglect would be easy to prove being that all their animals are in plain view to anyone passing by. Especially with all the scrutiny they apparently get from police/neighbors. I think it would be safe to say that since that hasn't been proven, it probably doesn't happen.

Sorry but 13 dogs running at large convictions and 3 convictions pertaining to swine just does not make me feel good about the Wilson family running a slaughterhouse. Anyone can see those animal convictions and many other convictions on the Va. GD courts website.

Loose dogs and a couple loose pigs out of the hundreds that go through there. Sounds like about every farm house in the valley and is a far cry from animal abuse.

It's extremely "typical" for a group of Shenandoah County residents to object to anything & everything proposed in this county. 1st of all leave his children out of it... they've paid their dues & one is fighting for our country. My advice to most of you negative sayers is; if you can only find fault with every proposal made in this county, maybe it's time YOU got a life and realized that things NEVER stay the same for ever. One must wonder who is behind this barage of negative comments. We all know who is behind the jail project objections. The man at the top! Shame on you all!

A feud over pigs? Remembered for generations to come? I keep expecting Cotton Top and Devil Anse to post their comments here...

I see a vocal minority has been rallied. You're right; things change. I remember when there was the Eagle Farm's slaughterhouse. Now it's a neighborhood. Chicken coops where Rite-Aid is and an orchard where is Wal-Mart. I'm all about progress, but not this. Again, as stated in a previous comment, Mr. Wilson would have no trouble in Augusta Co. or even across the border in West By-God Virginia.

Some of you newbies here are not getting it! Anyone who has been here for a while knows I am pro farming and yes I am a farmer myself. I am also pro business. The problem here is Wilson's lack of respect for the law. I counted 40 convictions in GD court and those records only go back so far. If he has broken all of these various laws would you bet your money on him running an operation that followed all laws slaughterhouses have to abide by? I would not. I imagine if this does go through at some point he would be shut down anyway for breaking the rules. I don't see this genius getting along with the inspectors (they can be tough for anyone). Also I looked up 6 other farmers I know from Strasburg to Mt. Jackson on the GD court site and they had a total of 7 convictions between all six farmers. Mostly traffic and no animals running at large! I am sure they have dogs and their animals get out from time to time but I would also bet they tend to them better than a man with a track record of behavior of Wilson. What, I guess your now going to say it was the neighbors? If he gets up and running you can give him all the business you want. Anyone with any common sense would buy from someone else.

Either way the things being built whether for personal use or commercial. There's just less rules and inspectors to deal with. The Wilson's run a successful plumbing company working out of multiple states and D.C. So it's not like it's a needed source of revenue. With the "newbie" comment and thinking a man who runs a plumbing company can't deal with inspectors, I'd say your pretty ignorant on the subject.

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