Your Views: Slaughterhouse SUP was illegal

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The new poultry butcher shop at 3225 Colvin St. will house and slaughter live chickens. (File photo)
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To the editor:

Thanks to the Alexandria Times for its continued attention to the city’s unlawful and damaging zoning permit allowing a slaughterhouse to occupy land close to food preparation and pet care facilities and restaurants.

The Alexandria City Charter 2.04(m) declares slaughterhouses to be inherently “offensive.” City Code 13-1-27 permits penalties to be imposed on property owners and users who undertake “offensive” businesses. The Special Use Permit that the slaughterhouse received was unlawful.

The city granted the slaughterhouse an SUP in late March 2019. The affected neighbors promptly sought legal relief. It is now October. The city has still not answered the lawsuit, and instead filed motions to selectively challenge certain aspects and features. The city, not the injured neighbors, has delayed the suit by engaging in complex and protracted motions practice. That is the city’s right, but that is also the cause of the delay.

The Times should review the actual SUP application. It references California law. It references a waste hauler that has no operations in Alexandria. It references a slaughter count of roughly 50 animals per day. In fact, the SUP application was duplicated from a different application that the slaughter business filed in California. In city council’s rush to say “Yes,” the application had never been read thoroughly. At the March city council meeting, the slaughter operator dramatically increased the daily slaughter count – and the SUP application that the applicant filed was up-sized by city council during the meeting.

Your Oct. 3 story, “Lawsuit filed over chicken slaughterhouse,” referenced the applicant’s horrific acts of animal torture in Connecticut; the ownership and control of the slaughterhouse in Connecticut and the proposed slaughterhouse in Alexandria are the same. Your story didn’t mention the additional criminal charges filed just three weeks ago. See https://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/local/More-Animal-Cruelty-Charges-For-People-Running-Bloomfield-Butcher-Shop-560172521.html.

Alexandria residents should know about the city of Everett, Massachusetts’ denial of a permit to the same slaughterhouse operator based on lying on its application.

Your story noted the comprehensive findings of Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, who visited the slaughterhouse’s Philadelphia facility and reported to council. The Philadelphia violation record merits attention; it is extensive.

The slaughterhouse’s New York outlet has been found guilty of multiple violations, has refused to comply with court and regulatory orders and has been penalized by the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division. The slaughterhouse has also been subject to numerous other proceedings, including for labor abuse.

The Alexandria slaughterhouse will be entirely exempt from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.

City council and the planning commission did a superficial job, for no good reason. The slaughterhouse’s Special Use Permit is illegal on its face. Alexandria is no place for a slaughterhouse, especially a slaughterhouse run by an operator with this history of violations.

-Mark C. Williams, Alexandria

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