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Thread: Urban slaughterhouse?

  1. #1
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    Urban slaughterhouse?

    Hi--

    I am new to Cyburbia, and would like help with a dilemma.

    I am developing a small area plan for a distressed urban neighborhood in central Baltimore. The neighborhood has a jumble of different land uses, but is primarily residential and has a commercial corridor we contemplate redeveloping for office, retail, and high-density residential uses. On this corridor is a grandfathered slaughterhouse (abattoir). The business has been in operation since about 1860 when the street was known as "Slaughterhouse Row" or something to that effect. All other slaughterhouses in the area have since closed or moved, and other existing slaughterhouses in Baltimore are in industrial-zoned areas. My instinct says that the remaining slaughterhouse should also move, but our economic development department refuses to find a more appropriate location and has been in discussions with the abattoir owners to expand the facility. They are interested in retaining the unionized jobs the facility offers, and they maintain that a modern facility would eliminate many of the problems the residents are having now-- bad smells, the occasional loose cow (I've heard stories, but I'm not sure if this still happens), and sanitation issues.

    This slaughterhouse has apparently been an issue before in past revitalization attempts. Residents say that the facility's refusal to move nixed private and public commitments to invest.

    Questions:
    1. Has anyone dealt with this in an urban setting before? What solutions did you come up with? Can communities and abattoirs peacefully co-exist?
    2. What are modern standards for abattoirs? Do they contemplate locations in urban settings? Are there different standards for urban versus rural or industrial facilities?

    Any help you could provide would be greatly appreciated. Obviously, I'd like information that supports my position, but I'd also appreciate examples where this situation has been successfully handled. Thanks!
    Last edited by taritac; 23 Mar 2005 at 2:34 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    When I worked for Greensboro NC we had a rendering plant not far from downtown it had been there ages and the smell was...well it was BAD in the summer. We faced the same waste issues but it was grandfathered and in an industrial zone.

    Best of luck
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  3. #3
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Wow. You have an industrial use that wants to stay in your town? That's a rare blessing.

    If you want to get rid of it, just build some yuppie condos next door. They'll think it's really cool and edgy and urban to live next to a real slaughterhouse. But then the first time the wind blows in their direction, they'll become voracious NIMBYs, hounding the company until it finally gives up and leaves town.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally posted by jordanb
    Wow. You have an industrial use that wants to stay in your town? That's a rare blessing.

    If you want to get rid of it, just build some yuppie condos next door. They'll think it's really cool and edgy and urban to live next to a real slaughterhouse. But then the first time the wind blows in their direction, they'll become voracious NIMBYs, hounding the company until it finally gives up and leaves town.
    It's a small operation for kosher meat-- about 10 employees, but I'm not sure how many they will have if they expand. In general, Baltimore has suffered the loss of big-time industrial/manufacturing jobs just like other East and Midwest industrial cities have.

    While B'more definitely has areas where yuppies are an important revitalization component, they haven't quite made their way to inner-city Baltimore-- too Black, too poor, too much crime.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Thought about putting uses like night clubs, store front churches etc next to it? Those keep hours where the plant would not be open and less conflict? Try to get uses you don't want other places to go there be it some relaxed setbacks, parking requirements or whatever lure other less desirable uses to the area.
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally posted by PlannerGirl
    Thought about putting uses like night clubs, store front churches etc next to it? Those keep hours where the plant would not be open and less conflict? Try to get uses you don't want other places to go there be it some relaxed setbacks, parking requirements or whatever lure other less desirable uses to the area.
    That solution would be a consideration if it weren't such a prominent area. The area just to the west of this neighborhood is "hot" right now-- home prices have about doubled in the last few years, and the slaughterhouse site is on a major street. The city owns a lot of land on the block with the slaughterhouse and right across the street is about 4 acres of city -owned land that we hope to offer for development after the plan is complete. On the 4 acre site I envision a major movie theater (there isn't one in all of Baltimore City-- if we could get one, it would make MUCH MOOLAH, particularly since it is about 2 blocks from a heavily used transit stop. MAGIC JOHNSON! ARE YOU LISTENING???), restaurants (another missing commodity in this area), retail and some sort of employment center (office, R&D, light manuf.). A slaughterhouse just doesn't fit in my head.

    Sigh. It doesn't seem like there is much experience with this particular situation, which only makes me think that all other jurisdictions have enough common sense not to expand such facilities in densely populated areas. If only I can get our econ. dev. people to see this . . . .

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Plus PlannerGirl's avatar
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    Best of luck
    "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin

    Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'WOO- HOO what a ride!'"

  8. #8
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    If you want to play dirty, why not restrict trucks from using the streets around it?

    That probably won't work if they have friends in government though.

    Also you could take a page from my fair city and play the "suprise code inspection" game.

  9. #9
    maudit anglais
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    Quote Originally posted by taritac
    Has anyone dealt with this in an urban setting before?
    I haven't been directly involved, but there have been a couple of similar cases here in Toronto. Residents buy pricey homes or condos and then discover that there is a working slaughterhouse just down the road. Then they want the City to do something about it.

    Quote Originally posted by taritac
    Questions:
    What solutions did you come up with? Can communities and abattoirs peacefully co-exist?
    Still working on solutions in one case...I think they can co-exist (mainly because they will have to until the owner decides to relocate), but not peacefully. Complaints re: noise, smell are handled by provincial regulations, making it harder for the City do interfere (not necessarily a bad thing IMHO). Re: Jorbanb's suggestion on trucking - we can't stop them using local roads to access the facility (truck route regulation states you can use most direct route to access site not on a designated truck route), but we have from time to time enforced parking regs around the plant a little more diligently.

    Quote Originally posted by taritac
    What are modern standards for abattoirs? Do they contemplate locations in urban settings? Are there different standards for urban versus rural or industrial facilities?
    No clue. I would think any new operation would want to avoid an urban setting.

    I think a question you need to ask yourself is - should the City be even contemplating the introduction of uses not compatible with what's there now? Although I have little sympathy for people who don't do their research before plonking down big bucks for a house next to an abbatoir, the City has some responsibility when it approves developments which are obviously in conflict with surrounding uses.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner
    Residents buy pricey homes or condos and then discover that there is a working slaughterhouse just down the road. Then they want the City to do something about it.
    Not exactly the case here-- this is an old inner-city, pre-industrial, certainly pre-zoning neighborhood where slaughterhouses and people originally lived side-by-side. The condos and pricey homes haven't come yet, but I would like to get them to come! The land uses in this neighborhood are a crazy mish-mash, and I'm hoping to make some sense of them. There are great opportunities here (large parcels of vacant land, opportunities to acquire vacant buildings to make large developable tracts, proximity to a transit station, adjacent to the second largest urban park in the US) for mixed use, pedestrian-friendly, transit-oriented development-- all the planning buzz words. The industrial uses are a patchwork.

    Quote Originally posted by Tranplanner
    I would think any new operation would want to avoid an urban setting. . . .Should the City be even contemplating the introduction of uses not compatible with what's there now? [T]he City has some responsibility when it approves developments which are obviously in conflict with surrounding uses.
    I definitely agree, which is why I'm trying to convince the econ. devel. office to back off the abattoir's expansion plan.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian chukky's avatar
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    I always run into the same issue with things like gas stations... really who wants to live near them?? I think a buffer zone... dense shrubbery can hide a multitude of
    sins.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by taritac
    Sigh. It doesn't seem like there is much experience with this particular situation, which only makes me think that all other jurisdictions have enough common sense not to expand such facilities in densely populated areas. If only I can get our econ. dev. people to see this . . . .
    Boston Mayor Menino's Back Streets Initiative has fought tirelessly to keep and expand light industrial employers in the city. This inititive has often come into conflict with neighborhood, community and city plans, however the industry usually wins out. Boston is in a desperate struggle to keep its working and middle classes in the city. These types of jobs are very important to that battle and often take precendence over yet another condo development or hotel.

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    Hmm, first of all it sounds bizarre that such a use has survived in such an urban environment. Bringing livestock into the city, presumably by the truckload, doesn't sound very economical. It sounds like one of those value added type of uses that would thrive better in the agricultural area where they're close to the source, if you know what I mean. Can your ec. dev. guys pitch them on a more mutually benefical location?

    Anyway, in our area, abattoirs aren't permitted by zoning by-law anywhere. So, if someone wants to start one up, we're into the very public process of amending the by-law. While preparing for an OMB hearing where I was there basically as a friend to the Board (read - no position, just background info.) I talked to a government official who was involved in regulating abattoirs. What I got out of him was that the perception of conflict with sensitive uses is greater than the reality. Modern abattoirs are heavily regulated and don't have any obvious outward indications of what goes on inside. But if you know you've going to have one beside you, your mind can wander into some very nasty places when you think of what can go on inside the walls. So, in your case (in recent history) is it a perception thing? I appreciate that commercial uses would be better but, other than the fact that its an abattoir, is it a nuisance? Does it generate too much truck traffic, is it noisy, is it smelly? Food for thought.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally posted by Fig Newton
    So, in your case (in recent history) is it a perception thing? I appreciate that commercial uses would be better but, other than the fact that its an abattoir, is it a nuisance? Does it generate too much truck traffic, is it noisy, is it smelly? Food for thought.
    Right now, it is smelly and a potential health hazard-- residents have complained about the owners washing blood down storm drains. The econ. devel. people believe a modern facility won't have the same kinds of issues.

    I'm giving our housing and econ. devel. depts. a presentation about the plan next week. I'm hoping to convince them that a mixed use, retail/residential plan would be better economically than expanding the facility.

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    Not to be contrary but....

    They have been a steady economic driver in the economy for 150 years?!? Anything you do to restrict their trade as far as zoning goes will be a taking and an easy court case for them.

    If I were the owner you would have to give me a brand new larger facility with no debt service. I would also want some nice tax abatements.

    Glad I am not in your position.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    Hm. that really is a rock and a hard place. It sounds as though they've expanded, or plan to, beyond what their site will allow, yet the area is still a good location for them. Do the employees there walk to work? How localized is this operation? Is there any way they can stay in the general area, but perhaps move to a location that would both allow them to expand the way they want to (good for them), stay in the area (good for them, apparently also good for the city--jobs), yet not in immediate proximity to the planned redevelopment? If they've stayed there for over 150 years, there must be a good reason. It seems like sometimes we (over-generalized "we" here) forget that mixed uses are nothing new. They were in place long before people drove out to the suburbs, and the malls, and the subdivisons. In my city it's very common to have houses backing up to functioning factories. While it's not necessarily always that desirable, it does often introduce a 24-hour street presence, and it can work. It just depends on how the use is buffered, and how the industrial traffic is handled.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    They have been a steady economic driver in the economy for 150 years?!? Anything you do to restrict their trade as far as zoning goes will be a taking and an easy court case for them.
    True enough. Why not get the company to clean up their act too, be a better and more responsible neighbor, hire more local residents, tighten up the ship so to speak, what about other agriculrtral related industries to attract that might be more "green" and buffer the abbattoir, (what a wonderful word). greenhouses for flower flats and hydroponic tomatoes?
    what is the purpose within
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally posted by Jen
    True enough. Why not get the company to clean up their act too, be a better and more responsible neighbor, hire more local residents, tighten up the ship so to speak, what about other agriculrtral related industries to attract that might be more "green" and buffer the abbattoir, (what a wonderful word). greenhouses for flower flats and hydroponic tomatoes?
    Plannerbabs and Jen, your ideas are great, but would likely work only if there was a lot more land to work on. The business is on basically a city lot-- it's probably about 40' wide and about 200' deep.

    Quote Originally posted by Mark Moseley
    They have been a steady economic driver in the economy for 150 years?!? Anything you do to restrict their trade as far as zoning goes will be a taking and an easy court case for them.
    I wouldn't really call them an economic driver, but they are steady. If anything, they've driven other businesses away. Their lot is currently zoned commercial, not heavy industrial, the only zoning category that allows abbatoirs, so I don't think they'd have a takings argument. If they did, they probably should have made that argument 30 years ago during the city-wide rezoning.

    I gave my presentation yesterday to The Powers That Be, and they seem to be on board. The econ. development person liked the idea of mixed use with a heavy retail/other commercial focus. She seemed to give up on the idea of expanding the slaughterhouse after understanding that there would have to be community input if the facility wanted to expand-- both for the zoning change to heavy industrial and for the sale of city-owned land.

    Mark Moseley is right-- the econ. devel. people will have to find them a new location, but since they wanted to expand or rebuild anyway, I don't think the city will be forced to pay for their facility, too.

    Anyway, thanks for your input. It's great having access to the experiences and insight of planners from around the country!

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