Slaughterhouse proposal raises questions in New Milford
NEW MILFORD — A proposal to allow commercial slaughterhouses on farms in town won support from hunters and farmers in a public hearing last week, but sparked worries it could pave the way for large meat-packing facilities and generate disagreeable sights, smells and sounds.
The zoning code already allows farms to slaughter their own cattle. The proposed amendment would strike language forbidding commercial slaughterhouses from the definition of “farm,” allowing farmers to slaughter animals from other sources.
The Farmland and Forest Preservation Committee, an appointed panel seeking the change, had hoped to head off possible concerns with restrictions written into the amendment requiring slaughterhouses be located on lots 10 acres or larger, positioned more than 200 feet from neighboring homes and comply with U.S. Department of Agriculture standards.
But those restrictions were not enough for Zoning Board Chairman Bill Taylor, who worried the amendment could create a loophole allowing large slaughtering facilities on larger tracts of land. Board member Charles Bogie agreed, saying what begins as an incidental or accessory use could become a primary use later on.
But Margery Feldberg, who raises cattle commercially on De Hoek Farm on Hine Road and has a USDA-approved slaughtering facility, said that would be “highly unlikely” because the amendment requires landowners to obtain a special permit for any slaughterhouse.
Resident Bob Jackson, who owns property next to a farm, said he worried about “traffic, noise and pollution” from such a facility. Another resident, Mary Ellen Novak, said there could be unintended consequences if the regulation were not “airtight,” noting in New Jersey, where there are many slaughter facilities, the smell is bad.