QUESTION: What, if anything, can Alamance County do to regulate a small slaughtering plant that has been proposed near the intersection of Jim Minor and Freshwater roads? Will this business include some sort of “lagoon” to hold animal waste? Will the county be able to control the traffic, odor, and noise from this enterprise – even in the absence of countywide zoning?
ANSWER: Most new businesses hope to make a killing. But one proposed venture along Jim Minor Road intends to do so in more ways than one – and the county appears to have little recourse to keep that from happening.
According to Tonya Caddle, the county’s planning and inspections director, this “custom” slaughterhouse is the brainchild of a Morrisville-based limited liability company called NRC USA, which recently acquired two parcels at 2448 South Jim Minor Road.
County land records indicate that NRN purchased these lots, which cover an area of just over 12 acres, for $520,000 in November of 2021. This property lies outside the planning jurisdiction of Mebane or any other municipality, which places it squarely within the regulatory oversight of the county’s planning department.
Caddle conceded that this prospective new abattoir doesn’t fall under the purview of the county’s heavy industrial development ordinance. She nevertheless added that the plans for this project still have to go through the county’s technical review process, which has provided her and her colleagues with an inkling of what the property owner has in the works.
“It really is several buildings where the public would be able to come in and slaughter animals,” Caddle explained in an interview Monday. “We don’t have any real guidelines for that. We just sent it through technical review so that the fire marshal and so on could look at the setbacks and the size of the buildings.”
Caddle recalled that the planning department initially received a rudimentary site plan for this operation in July of this year. This submission was followed by a second, more detailed proposal after members of the county’s staff-level technical review committee inquired about the dimensions of the proposed buildings, their potential water usage, and the number of customers and employees who are expected to be on site at any one time.
In his follow-up submission, the applicant, Manash Shrestha, noted that the property at 2448 South Jim Minor Road had previously been used for the custom slaughter of farm fowl and other livestock.
“They used to have chicken[s], goat[s], turkey[s], and other animals in the barn,” Shrestha goes on to elaborate. “So, most of the infrastructure is already designed in a certain way…Water is already placed at 7 different sections of the land for animals.”
Shrestha observed that the property currently contains a small slaughterhouse with an area of 40 feet by 30 feet, a 15-by-30-foot “goat barn,” and two sets of chicken coops with dimensions of 12 by 15 and 12 by 20 feet, respectively. He also described plans for a second “goat barn” on the property with a capacity for 50 animals, a pair of 30-by-50-foot “shelter huts” for the goats, a greenhouse for organic vegetables, and a “dump site” situated in either the center of the property or at its northeastern edge.
Shrestha added that the business would begin operating with three employees, who would serve one to three customers at a time – and 5 to 30 customers each day.
Caddle told The Alamance News that the manager of this proposed custom slaughterhouse will apparently live in a single-family home that already stands on the more northerly of the two parcels. She also noted a residential subdivision backs up to the second, more southerly parcel, although she wasn’t able to say what impact, if any, the noise or odor from the new business would have on these neighbors.
“There’s no lagoon in the plan so we didn’t ask about that,” the county’s planning and inspections director added, “and we didn’t ask about the smell or the noise because we don’t regulate that. Noise is regulated by the sheriff’s department, and nobody regulates smell.”
Caddle acknowledged that the county’s technical review committee has yet to formally greenlight this project and is presently still waiting for the applicant to address some additional questions. She added that, once the committee signs off on the venture, the property owner will be able to apply for the building permits needed to bring the plans to fruition.