Downtown slaughterhouse gets cool reception

The former bakery building on First Street in downtown Princeton that James Dougherty is remodelling into a meat market. Dougherty has talked about wanting to someday have a kill floor so livestock could be slaughtered on site.
The former bakery building on First Street in downtown Princeton that James Dougherty is remodelling into a meat market. Dougherty has talked about wanting to someday have a kill floor so livestock could be slaughtered on site.

The idea of having a slaughterhouse in the former bakery building at 518 First St. in downtown Princeton, received a cool reception at Monday’s city Planning Commission meeting.

The proposal to have a meat market in the former Weisbrod bakery building, next to Cook’s Floor Covering, is on track to open as early as next month. Meat markets, which sell cuts of meat to the public, are allowed in Princeton’s B-1 central business district.

But having a “kill floor,” or slaughterhouse, is not covered under any Princeton city ordinance. There would have to be a zoning ordinance amendment to allow one, Princeton Community Development Director/Zoning Administrator Carie Fuhrman told the planning commission on Monday.

James Dougherty plans to open the meat market and has broached the idea of a kill floor at the business, to be named Hog Wild. Dougherty said he also hopes to have a deli at the location.

A kill floor, if approved, would mean Dougherty  could bring livestock to the building. He would kill and butcher them inside.

Dougherty was not at Monday’s commission meeting.


The discussion

Fuhrman introduced the slaughterhouse idea to the commission Monday with a written memo and verbal report.

“There are potential nuisance issues that need to be addressed when allowing this type of use, such as noise, odor, wastewater and so on,” Fuhrman stated in her memo.

Fuhrman noted that Sherburne County has an extensive ordinance with standards for slaughterhouse activities and she attached that information to the memo. She also included meat processing regulations from the city of Isanti.

Fuhrman then invited the commission to have a preliminary discussion on the topic.

The discussion dissolved at times into supposition of where an animal could be killed before bringing it to the market, if the city did not amend its ordinance to allow a slaughterhouse there. Planning Commission member Tim Siercks suggested the meat market operators could just kill the animal about 10 miles or so out of town and then haul it into the building to be butchered.

“As long as it gets a bullet in its head (before arriving in the downtown),” Siercks said.

“As long as it’s dead,” responded commission member Mitzi Mellott.

Mellott was not only against slaughtering taking place in the downtown, but also seemed repulsed by the idea of shooting the animal a few miles out before bringing it into town.

“It would still be gross,” she said. She added that the dead animal would have to be “clean” before it was brought in to be cut up.

Commission Chair Jack Edmonds, who brought up his past occupation of hauling cattle for slaughter, spoke against having a slaughterhouse.Edmonds raised an issue of escaping livestock, something that Fuhrman earlier stated was a topic raised when she talked to people in Foley and Isanti.

Edmonds recalled cases of livestock escaping from the former Droogsma Lockers in Princeton and running down to the golf course before someone with the Droogsma operation shot it.

Fuhrman noted that Police Chief Brian Payne has safety concerns about the idea of a slaughterhouse in the former bakery building.

One of the issues that commission members raised was traffic safety. Edmonds said that animals bound for slaughterhouses are now commonly hauled in trailers, and that even the best attempts to keep them secure aren’t guaranteed to succeed.

“I don’t care; animals will get away,” Edmonds said. The animals would be excited because they are “scared,” Edmonds added.

“There is already a problem with traffic on First Street and parking, so what that would do is increase those problems,” said Planning Commission member Dick Dobson, who also is on the City Council.

Dobson also raised the issue of sending liquids into the city’s wastewater system from a slaughterhouse floor. Dobson also mentioned that with apartments located across the street from the old bakery building, some residents there might have to get up early in the morning and wouldn’t want to “hear cows bellowing all night long.”

Slaughterhouses don’t belong downtown, Mellott said.

Edmonds said he felt the overall feeling from the planning commission was that it doesn’t want to see a slaughterhouse located downtown.

Fuhrman told the commission that Dougherty still has the right to request an amendment to the city’s zoning ordinance to allow a kill floor in the B-1 central business district, and that he had expressed his desire to make that request.