Herald Article here, wherein I receive all the gory glory. But it should not go without note that it was Wendy Harris who chopped the wood and carried the water on this for a long time while I fastidiously avoided it, assuming something so ill-conceived and horrific would go away on its own. Wendy had this thing completely wired when friendsofwhatcom.com decided to jump in and help her slay this dragon. It's going to need some more killing in the new year, so go sign the petition!
A week ago, not one County Council member had any idea their slaughterhouse bill would not fly through an approval last night. In moving it forward to last night's hearing, the only two dissenters thought it should be even less restrictive. But last night it was sent back to committee by a 7-0 vote. That's the power of daylight. And daylight galore it got, both here and at www.friendsofwhatcom.com (where folks should still go sign the petition).
But this thing is on a siding, not derailed. The beast is damaged but not dead. According to comments in committee and following last night's hearing, a majority still wants to pass something - badly. We and many citizens do not oppose adequate facilities for quality local meats.
But for me, I draw this line in the sand: NOT in the AG zone. That will go to the Growth management Hearings Board where the County already has a strong history of losing. That will go to referendum, where it will end the political career of any proponent. Believe me, I'd rather not.
We will follow this issue and keep folks informed. And we will press for reasonable limits for appropriate facilities somewhere in the 172 acres af rural industrial land where adequate services already exist. Fortunately, we can set this grim business aside for the holidays and don't expect it to rear it's head again until January 15th at the soonest. Happy holidays and congratulations to all who helped.
Video of last night's hearing will soon be posted at friendsofwhatcom,com.
An atrocious ordinance is coming to public hearing tomorrow night, Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 7:00 p.m. in the Whatcom County Council chambers. A proposal is afoot to upzone 88,000 acres of agricultural land. The measure will make slaughter and rendering permitted uses throughout the AG zone. As a permitted use, there is no requirement for public notice and there is no provision for appeal.
This could devastate property values. Studies suggest a whopping 20 to 100 percent reduction in value, depending on proximity, wind direction, and the type and size of facility. There is no effective size limit in the proposal. There is a size limit on individual buildings but the ordinance is carefully worded to allow an unlimited number of facilities to be accessory to one another.
A further provision requires one half of the animals to be from Whatcom County. More than sixty acres would need conversion to factory farm to keep one maximum-sized chicken slaughter busy. That could further lower values and transform the rural character of Whatcom County. This affects everyone because if the rural values drop, levy rates in cities and towns may need to be raised.
The proposal also proffers huge environmental as well as social risks. You can read more about it at www.friendsofwhatcom.com and there is more here at www.nwcitizen.com, too. If you know anyone who owns land in the county, please let them know. There are very good reasons that slaughter and rendering have been moved into industrial zones - where we already have more than 175 suitable acres.
I urge all to contact their county friends and make sure they know what's going on. I urge all to share their opinion of this wholesale upzone of the AG district with their county representatives - firstname.lastname@example.org.
This ordinance has been sneaking through the process under the title “Small-Scale Agricultural Slaughter.” It is not small scale and they are going to slaughter animals, though they may end up slaughtering agriculture, too. They have been discussing this since September and are now trying to jam it through before the holidays and years end when the county agendas are always intimidating.
Also, we would all really benefit from any videographers who can spend an evening getting these guys on tape. You shouldn't be able to make decisions this bad without being held accountable. On an earlier tape, available at Friendsofwhatcom.com, you can watch them joke about rendering plants possibly smelling a bit like BBQ. You can also read a sobering account from the director of our Clean Air Authority.
It's nice when you don't have to guard against reversing a hundred years of planning principle, but that's just not a priority for our current council.