Neighbors Appeal Plans for Chicken Farm with Slaughterhouse

Homeowners concerned about potential noxious odors, their safety and the impact to their property values are fighting a proposal to allow a chicken slaughterhouse to operate on Tranquility Drive.

“It’s out of character with the neighborhood,” said Joe Calzone, a longtime Tranquility Drive resident and the driving force behind the “Stop the Slaughterhouse on Tranquility” signs around town.

Last year Easton’s Zoning Enforcement Officer Phillip Doremus approved a permit to build a 10-by-10-foot slaughterhouse with a sink and separate 1,500-gallon polyethylene tank, a tool shed, and two chicken coops at 59 Tranquility Drive.

Four Tranquility Drive homeowners are asking the Zoning Board of Appeals to reject the permit, and some 70 residents in and around the neighborhood have signed a petition opposing the slaughterhouse.

The Zoning Board of Appeals will hold a public hearing on the permit for the slaughterhouse, sink and separate septic on April 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the Easton Public Library

Charles J. Willinger, who represents the four homeowners appealing the permit, said the commercial nature of the slaughterhouse would destroy the residential character of the neighborhood and open the door to similar commercial endeavors in Easton.

“We have a very good legal argument, and don’t think it’s allowed, pursuant to the regulations,” Willinger said.   

Doremus said he signed off on the permit because zoning laws allow for its size and use on the property.

“Farms that raise crops and animals, process and sell their byproducts are allowed in residential neighborhoods in Easton,” Doremus said. “There are two zones is Easton, single family dwelling and agricultural. There isn’t a commercial zone.”

Town records indicate that Sueide Salha sold the 3-acre lot on 59 Tranquility Drive for $183,000 last year to a buyer who placed the property in a trust named the Connecticut State Police Barracks Trust. The trust appears to have no connection to the Connecticut State Police.

The buyer, who is from Trumbull and would only speak on the condition of anonymity, said opposition to his chicken farm is overblown. Farms in Easton operate in residential zoned neighborhoods such as Silverman’s and Snow’s farms on Sport Hill Road, he said.

“Everything I did was done by regulation,” he said. “I painstakingly went through the proper authorities to get approval. I invested a lot of time, energy and money.”

He has moved into a 1,200-square-foot home built on the property with the approval of the town’s zoning department.

The owner needs to have his slaughterhouse approved by the State Department of Agriculture and a state- issued small poultry license .

If he is given the go-ahead, he’d share the property with 170 free range chickens that he’ll sell at farm stands and the meat to restaurants. He’d run a one-man operation “just him and his shovel,  no roosters, no breeding, no employees, no farm stand, no trucks,”  he said.

Beth Saunders, an Easton resident and Realtor, signed the petition opposing the slaughterhouse because of concerns it would attract wild animals and pose a health risk in a neighborhood where people walk their dogs and children play.

“And we should not call it a farm,” she said. “We have farms in Easton, tree farms, vegetable farms, animal farms, flower farms. This is not a farm. It’s a slaughterhouse. They will be raising animals to kill them.”

Local zoning regulations allow for keeping chickens, horses, livestock and other animals on a farm or accessory to a residence and must follow guidelines issued by the state Department of Agriculture Connecticut General Statutes, Section 19a-341

Rebecca Eddy, a spokesperson for the state Department of Agriculture, said in an email that for the small poultry slaughter program, local approval must be obtained first. The state agency works with local departments, and the producer concurrently so the facility meets state standards.  Local zoning, building, sewer and water have to be complied with.

Calzone feels blindsided by the town’s decision to approve the slaughterhouse. He said the property sat vacant for years except for the frame of a run-down structure. When the structure was torn down and a small modular home went up on the property earlier this year he wondered who his new neighbor might be.

 “Never in my wildest dreams did I think the town would approve a slaughterhouse,” Calzone said.

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