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Posted August 9, 2012 | comments 8 Comments

Slaughterhouse foes fear permit needed

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

MT. JACKSON -- Opponents of a proposed poultry slaughterhouse near Mt. Jackson may want Shenandoah County to approve the controversial permit request, officials said Wednesday.

Shenandoah County officials told 30 people gathered at Pleasant View Church of the Brethren that their neighbor can slaughter a certain number of birds without any permits or oversight by regulatory agencies. By granting the request for a special-use permit the proprietor would fall under scrutiny by local, state and federal agricultural and environmental regulatory agencies, according to county officials.

"All I can do is say he's met the criteria of the zoning ordinance and that's the end of my authority," Joyce Fadeley, the county zoning subdivision administrator, advised the audience.

One man, who asked to remain anonymous, said after the meeting: "Either way, we're screwed."

Edwin Wilson, who was not at the meeting, has said he wants to process 200 chickens per month in a 600-square-foot slaughterhouse which he would build on his property at 4154 Conicville Road. Such an amount would require that an inspector with the U.S. Department of Agriculture remain on site at all times slaughtering and processing takes place, officials have said. Several people questioned whether even the agencies could keep Wilson from violating regulations. Officials didn't completely answer that question or "who's gonna count the chickens" as several people asked.

Members of the church and neighbors oppose the request, saying the operation could harm the environment, the water supply, produce a bad smell from the process and create a nuisance with stray birds.

District 2 Supervisor Steven A. Baker led the discussion and tried several times to assure the audience Wilson's operation would not come close to that of an industrial slaughterhouse. Baker explained that Wilson would need more land, a wastewater treatment facility on site and likely an industrial-depth well. At least one person questioned whether such an operation as proposed by Wilson should be allowed to tap into the fragile aquifer.

Baker, when asked which side he fell on the issue, told the audience he had not yet decided on a position for or against.

Bobby Clark, extension agent with the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension, explained the agricultural regulations and Vito Gentile spoke to the audience about the county's comprehensive plan and its role in the issue.

"It is my understanding that he can process 999 birds [per year] without any direct inspection," Clark said. "I guess he can go in his kitchen and process 'em and then put 'em in a cooler and sell 'em."

However, without a USDA stamp of approval, Wilson cannot sell the chicken meat outside Virginia, Clark explained.

Fadeley said Wilson likely would want to obtain the USDA stamp in order to expand how and where he sells the products.

The comprehensive plan seeks to promote the locality's agriculture industry and even encourages others to do the same, according to Gentile. The plan also notes the need to preserve the county's natural beauty.

Fadeley, at the request of several people in the audience, said she would look into whether Wilson had obtained the necessary permits to build the structures already on the site. Some people noted that Wilson already had built footings for the proposed slaughterhouse without a permit.

8 Comments | Leave a comment

    Slaughterhouse - what a great way to make a buck! Do any of you really want these things springing up in your back yard?

    I know the killing of animals is big business and even if you don't care about these creatures, do you really want this stuff in the ground and rivers? How about breathing this death stench?

    YOUR water is being polluted and once it's gone - no amount of animal flesh is going to help. Run these people out of here! Enough!

    If zoning allows it what can be done? That being said if in fact permits aren't in place and construction has begun? Well now the county has some leverage. I don't see this operation being the next Dinner Bell, I can see a few months operation then when the work and government redtape kick in and no profit, then it will go away. Keep stirring the pot and things will be done just for spite.

    I have witnessed first hand how this man regards animals. I have seen how he maintains and respects his property as well as the rights and property of others. It is shameful and very sad that he may be allowed to do it on a commercial level. I say give him the permit, he won't be able to handle the scrutiny of inspectors and paperwork. At least with a permit he will be somewhat controlled.

    It is not that the neighbors in that area are against agriculture in Shenandoah County! We are concerned because of the history of this man who has demonstrated he cannot manage anything or be responsible for his actions. He does not live on the property and he takes no pride in the appearance of the place. His present place of residence shows lack of concern for his neighbors. We wonder where the respect is for the church that is located so close and has been there since 1879. What is scary is we were told a lot of following the rules is a "matter of trust" and it never was established who would be sure any rules would be followed. So many unknowns!

    First thing you need to do is fire your clueless zoning administrator. The Church is historic. Create an overlay zoning district to cover the church and surrounding properties, clearly defining what can and can not be done. Simple solution. Ask anyone form the Big Apple and they will show you how it is done. No nuisance. No problem. Then go after the "blighted" subject property. Virginia eminent domain laws do not prohibit protecting the health and safety of its citizens.

    You know what put a small waste water system in, and aerate the heck out of the feathers/blood etc that comes off the birds when they are killed. Then run everything through a few more tanks, hopefully there is alot of evaporation being that this is going to be a small operation (I reckon thtat is what the NVD article is saying) Then If anything is left put a little bleach on it, if any goes on the ground. This definately can't be as bad as the cows wading in the waterway.

    But I'm not a neighbo of this! And I guarantee there are cows pooping near by.

    West (By-God) Virginia seems like an excellent place for Mr. Wilson, his sons, and their shenanigans....

    It will be up to consumers whether or not this operation succeeds. Many consumers interested in purchasing locally grown poultry are not only interested in where the animal came from, but also how it was raised and processed. For producers, this often means being more transparent about their operation than they may be used to- consumers may want to visit the farm, for example, or they may ask what the animal was fed. Ultimately, these very engaged consumers care about the effect producing the animal had on the environment. If the proposed operation doesn't meet their high standards, then it won't be successful. The responsibility ultimately lies with the consumer.

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