Slaughterhouse plan goes to Auburn Planning Board Tuesday

AUBURN — A plan to allow slaughterhouses in the city's Agricultural zone gets a public hearing Tuesday.

The Auburn Planning Board is scheduled to review a zoning change that would let Linke Farms of Pennsylvania apply to open a standalone slaughterhouse on two lots at the intersection of Trapp Road and Royal River Road.

The Planning Board is scheduled to review the zoning change and make a recommendation to City Councilors at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Auburn Hall.

The farm, on the 21.5 acre lot at 512 Trapp Road and the 22-acre lot at 526 Trapp Road immediately south, was home to a chicken farm and processing operation in 1998 that was never successful.

Linke Farm's Craig Linke would like to resurrect the operation to process red meat — beef, pork, lamb and goat.

The property is in Auburn's Agriculture and Resource Protection zone that allows slaughterhouses as an accessory use to a farm. Standalone slaughterhouses, like the one Linke is proposing, are currently only allowed in the city's Industrial zone.

No matter what the Planning Board says, if councilors ultimately agree to the change, Linke would be able to apply to the city for special exception to build his slaughterhouse.

But neighbors warn the change would do more than allow Linke's slaughterhouse. It would also open half of the city to slaughterhouses as a special exception.

"I'd rather not live next to a slaughterhouse," said neighbor Ken Bellefleur of 100 Royal River Road. "That's one thing. But I'm very concerned that we'd be opening 50 percent of the city to that kind of change. The only thing that would prevent them from coming in would be the economy."

Neighbor Michelle Melaragno of 576 Trapp Road agreed.

"Changing the Agriculture zone is such a concern because it affects such a large area of the city," she said. But Melaragno said she's just as worried about Linke's proposal. The property is on an old chicken farm and slaughterhouse that is 280 yards from her house.

"I know what it's like to live next to that kind of an operation," she said. "The odor was terrible from that facility and I had bugs in my basement for years because of it."

staylor@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Rachel  Jalbert-Palian's picture

slaughter house

Just to let you know i am the other abutter and i have the 22.5 acres and it is 528 Trapp Rd, before you start running your finger get the facts, also did you know he tried the slaughter house twice with the chickens and rabbits and failed twice.

Rachel  Jalbert-Palian's picture

slaughter house

This is to Ben Harris, Craig does not have 40+ acres he has 21.5, get your facts right no matter what he has told you, the abutter has the other 22.5.

 's picture

slaughter

Benharrison would you want to live next to door to this. I do not think so. When he ran the chicken farm is was not done properly. This is not a good idea. There is more at stake here as well. The zoning should not be changed.

Joe Gray's picture

Auburn is certainly not that business friendly

I went to the Auburn Planning Board meeting tonight and couldn't believe the proceedings. Of course the slaughterhouse was on the agenda and I favor putting it in the Ag zone so I won't talk about the ignorance on the part of the planning board and their lack of preparation in trying to make a decision.

But the hearing prior to the slaughterhouse hearing was enlightening. Michaud Trailer wants to put a showroom in Auburn. They have one in WInthrop and want to put a "satelite" sales store in Auburn just off Washington Street near the turnpike exit. No brainer right? It will work in the zoning, provide no real issues to the community and bring in a couple jobs and some tax income. Whats not to love?

But it took the planning board about 40 minutes to finally recommend approval of the project but not before putting these business people through the wringer. The board is so micromanaging that they required the site plan to include striped parking spaces in the parking lot. They want tractor trailers to not be allowed to left turn across the southbound lanes of Washington St during certain hours of the day. Why can't we leave it up to the professional truck driver to decide if it is safe or if he/she should travel a couple extra miles down the road to turn around and come at the intersection from the other direction. Why does the planning board need to make that decision for the driver? These unnecessary rules and stipulations are choking our businesses out. Why come to Auburn and put up with the myriad extra stuff when you can go elsewhere and not be encumbered?

Come on Auburn City Council and city government. You've been talking long and hard about how business friendly you are, starting proving it.

Joe Gray's picture

Name that slaughter facility

If you have been to a slaughter facility in Maine that is not adhering to the rules and regulations in place, please name that slaughter facility here and now. I will more than gladly call the state and seek an immediate inspection and, if necessary, shuttering of that business. I know of no such facility in our area. I can't speak to the slaughter facilities I haven't used, only the ones I have visited. Again, there are a couple that I have visited that we don't use. They were clean and nice enough, the staff just didn't instill confidence in us that they were going to treat our animals with the respect that we require.

If you really feel strongly about this, please name the facility so I can work to get it shut down. We don't want seedy operations in our area or anywhere. This is an industry that needs to be held to high standards.

We can find examples of the type of facility you write about in Food Inc or Food Matters or some such movie or book. The large facilities run by megacorporations are, in my opinion, irresponsible and horrible places. There is a facility in Tar Heel NC that slaughters 32,000 pigs each day. That is something we don't want here in Maine. There is virtually no way to slaughter 32,000 animals each day and not become desensitized to the fact that the animal is/was a living creature. So I would welcome a limit on numbers if need be, but I don't foresee the need here because we don't have the megafarms here to supply such an operation.

Ed Enos's picture

back yard farmer

Before any goes crazy with smells, bugs, body parts, etc, you should do some research. Perhaps even visit a slaughter house. They are very heavily regulated and inspected both by state and federal officials and prob by city officials as well. They must dispose of everything properly. Those of us who raise our food and those who buy locally grown meat would benefit. Slaughter houses are getting hard to find and processing is getting expensive. This should be encouraged for everyone's benefit.

Tony Morin's picture

Vegetarian?

I'll assume so.

Joe Gray's picture

Not just a number at local slaughter facilities

The videos you site and many on the internet are horrible. But that is not what we are talking about here. We care deeply about our animals, just as you do about your horses. We would never entrust this most sensitive issue with someone who couldn't give a crap. We have developed personal relationships with the folks who process our animals. When we call them, they know who we are and they take care of the animals just as we have - with respect. We would never take them to a mass slaughterhouse. So, if we are not comfortable with the facility staff here in Auburn should the variance pass, we will still travel to have our animals processed by the folks we know and trust. Most of us who raise our own food feel that way. Most farmers talk with each other at farmers' markets, cooperative extension meetings and such and compare notes to find who is good and who isn't.

As a side note, we have asked the folks we deal with now to expand so we can have more processing dates available to us, but they are comfortable now with their current size and don't wish to add to their enterprises. They are small businesses and have no desire to get big and impersonal. I have to respect that decision. But I still desire some dates that they can't provide. I have sought out other businesses, but am not comfortable with them and won't use them.

I know some people are just opposed to slaughter facilities on moral grounds. A lot of vegetarians and vegans think animal slaughter is just plain wrong. But most of us on earth eat meat and I feel it is better to have a personal stake in raising the food we eat. I don't want meat that has any additives or was treated like a production number. I want to entrust the animals that I spent years raising and petting and loving to people I respect and trust. That happens here in Maine with local facilities. More and more people are turning to locally raised food first for the taste and then to feel connected and to "know your farmer". We don't want to disappoint our family and friends by being callous with their food. Just as they want to feel connected to those of us who raise their food, we need to be connected to the processor to ensure we don't disappoint these people.

Kevin Hanscombe's picture

Need more information.

I am inclined to side with business but as usual because we live in such a beaucratic envrioment more information is needed to properly form an opinion... at least for me anyways.

Gil and Kim both provide good points..

Why coudn't this open in an area of the city that is already properly zoned, licensed, or whatever you want to call it?

How many jobs, tax revenue, investment does an operation like this bring?

Living next to bugs and smell is a valid point even when we are considering growing our economy. Is this claim true?

Joe Gray's picture

More information

The reason for the variance is that the building already exists and was used as a poultry slaughter facility a while back (I'm not sure the number of years).

The claim about bugs is somewhat bogus. First, there are bugs in most everyone's basement. Second, a slaughterhouse is extremely clean and sanitized. Since this is in the agriculture zone, the abutter should be used to bugs. Further, the abutter who was quoted owns horses and so has horse crap around her house already. The slaughterhouse doesn't house animals, so there is no stored manure on the premises, as there is at farms. Farms are far more buggy than slaughter facilities.

As far as the claim that nearly 50% of Auburn could have a slaughterhouse if this variance passes is also somewhat bogus. Slaughter facilities are allowed under current zoning in an agriculutural zone as an add on to a working farm. So anywhere there is a farm, there could also be a slaughterhouse. The variance in question is because the owner doesn't want to pasture any animals on that property. If he would pasture a couple dozen head of cattle we wouldn't be having this discussion.

The abutters have other reasons to oppose this project - some financial and some philosophical. Ms. Malargno (sorry about the spelling) operates an animal rescue and has an equine rescue trailer in her yard. Her opposition in more general I believe. The other abutter has been working to transform the zoning from agricultural to rural residential so he can sell lots and make some money. He has stated this plainly and is not shy at all about his intentions. So his opposition is mostly financial in nature. Their claims that the roads can't handle the traffic is bogus as the third opponent has a construction company and routinely runs his heavy machinery over Trapp Rd to his home. Ms Malargno also runs her large animal rescue trailer on that road. That trailer is at least as large as any that will potentially bring animals to the facility.

The facility is expected to generate 10 or so jobs (the planning board is looking to limit the size of the operation) and I'm not sure of the total money generated.

I am interested in this facility coming into town because it would shorten the trips it takes for me to get my animals processed. I take my animals to West Gardiner or Windham for processing and would love to reduce my travel. Further, it is difficult to get animals processed in a timely manner as we lack slaughter dates in this area. Those of us who process our animals for resale require a state or federal inspector to be on hand when our animals are processed to ensure they are done cleanly and correctly. Getting a slaughter date for animals under inspection is often difficult unless you plan six or more months in advance. Sometimes that just isn't possible. Another facility would greatly help us out.

Kimber Murphy-Hunt's picture

Not so much "NIMBY"... just put it where it belongs...

While I agree with you, Gil, that the jobs and new businesses are needed, I have to side with the abutters in this instance. There are locations within the industrial zone where this business could open. If I owned abutting property, I wouldn't want a slaughterhouse going in right next to me, either. Allowing a variance would be typical of Auburn, though. It's just one more way for the city to put the screws to it's taxpaying residents.

You have to figure anyone that purchases property within the agricultural zone would be aware of the restrictions in place. It's not unusual for annual taxes to be around $5,000 or greater (10+ acres, house, garage & barn, typically). Their property valuation (and taxes) will not necessarily go down because an industrial operation gets a variance to go in next door. They'll continue to pay what they've been paying right along... and if they should try to sell? No way in hell is anyone going to give them what the city values their property at because of the industrial activity next door... through no fault of their own. When they bought, they bought with the assurance that something like this would NOT be allowed.

Allowing an industrial operation a variance to open on property zoned only for agricultural use would subject the area to increased road traffic (trucking in animals, trucking out meat, plus the daily workforce); to added noise (the animals, the equipment); to added pests (bugs, varmints). Last but not least, the area would acquire that lovely smell of death. It belongs in the industrial zone where the roads are engineered to handle heavier traffic; where the noise won't be an issue; where the bugs and the smell won't bother residential farmers.

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