UPDATE: We have received the circuit court complaint which you can read here.
UPDATE (11:07 PM): Ten City of Alexandria property owners, businesses and residents have filed a circuit court complaint challenging the City’s approval of this land use.
A new petition is circulating in Alexandria, Virginia over a recently approved live chicken slaughterhouse the Alexandria City Council voted in favor of. The DC Live Poultry Market Corporation, has our City divided. After the council vote, residents in the audience shouted “shame” as council members walked out of the chambers.
The vote was brought to City Council because Abdulsalem Mused, the business owner, sought a special-use permit because the city’s zoning ordinance doesn’t specifically allow businesses to keep live animals overnight. In the butcher shop, customers choose their bird, which is then slaughtered according to halal principles — without stunning the bird, the butcher slits its throat to bring about as swift a death as possible.
While a number of local stores sell halal meat, the question is, did City Council approve the live butcher shop/chicken slaughterhouse correctly – following their own established precedence?
While we agree with Councilman Canek Aguirre who said at the vote “We do have to live within the reality of our society that we do consume meat and meat products,” was this live butcher shop approved correctly? Councilwoman Del Pepper stated there was no legal reason to vote against it but, is the shop in the correct location?
Let’s look at these questions.
The petition states that City Council failed to adequately consider factors in Section 11-504 of the City’s Zoning Code. These same factors were applied in renewing the auto dealerships permits on King Street as recently as 2014 – in other words, there is precedence.
During City Council deliberations over the King Street auto dealerships, former Mayor Bill Euille said “When I was a kid growing up here, King Street had several auto dealerships… not to mention numerous body and repair shops that lined King Street. But all that’s changed as the city has evolved and transitioned. It’s not that we don’t want these businesses here in the city, but ideally I’m not sure the current and present site location needs to continue.”
Factor B/10 in 11-054 states: “Whether the proposed use will have any substantial or undue adverse effect upon, or will lack amenity or will be incompatible with, the use or enjoyment of adjacent and surrounding property, the character of the neighborhood, traffic conditions, parking, utility facilities, and other matters affecting the public health, safety and general welfare.”
While we’ve shown you City Council precedence on land-use matters such as this, in this case, we’re going to focus on this factor. Folks complain about traffic but, we’re going to focus on odors.
The planning commission recommended special conditions the shop should be required to follow. The live poultry would have to be kept in the shop at all times. Partly because the room where the live animals would be stored does not have windows, the commission did not expect odor or noise to be major issues. However, as part of the special conditions, the business is supposed to have a ventilation system – where’s the odor going to go?
Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, who voted no along with Councilwoman Jackson, visited and/or called around about some of Mused’s 14 other butcheries. At the contentious public vote, she described noxious odors emanating from the shop she visited in Philadelphia, PA. She also said neighboring businesses reported to her that the smell was “unbearable, horrible, enough to make you gag… attracts rats, stinks.”
The block where the business was approved is home to three dog day-care facilities and is across the street from Alexandria Commons – a large shopping center. The dog day-care businesses joined together to get Alexandria to create the annual ‘Love Your Pet Day‘. How will the odors from the chicken slaughterhouse affect local business?
As we have written about before, when the wind blows from the east, occasionally, the Old Town area of Alexandria, Virginia ‘smells like a sewer’. While that smell is bad enough, should the businesses & neighborhood surrounding this shop be subject to the smell of death?
We agree with the Alexandria Times, as when City Council reviewed the auto dealerships, you can’t tell us there aren’t better alternatives for this land-use request. While this blog is all for free enterprise and the free exercise of religion, City Council should have looked more closely into this and worked with this owner to find a more suitable home in Alexandria.
That’s our view, what is yours?