The Easton Planning and Zoning Commission is drafting a zoning amendment to require applicants seeking to build an accessory farm structure to slaughter livestock to have a site plan approved by the commission. Current zoning regulations only require a permit for approval.

The proposed draft amendment comes as Tranquility Drive residents fight a legal battle to keep a chicken slaughterhouse out of their residential neighborhood.

Charles Welch, one of two Tranquility Drive residents who petitioned the commission for the zoning amendment, said requiring applicants to submit a site plan will make their application public because it would be brought to the commission as an agenda item for approval.

“We wanted to be sure that if someone were to propose something like this in the future it would have to be reviewed by the full commission, not signed just off by one zoning enforcement officer,” said Welch.

Welch said he and his neighbors were stunned to learn in 2020 that Easton’s then Zoning Enforcement Officer Phillip Doremus had 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. Andrew Blum of Trumbull purchased the three-acre lot at 59 Tranquility Drive for $183,000 identifying the purchaser as Connecticut State Police Barracks Trust His intent was to operate a chicken farm. 

“Putting a slaughterhouse in an established neighborhood is something that should require an open hearing,” Welch said.

Tranquility Drive residents, concerned about potential noxious odors, their safety and the impact to their property values, urged the Zoning Board of Appeals to reject the permit. The Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the permit.

Four residents are suing the Zoning Board of Appeals, claiming its decision violates Connecticut law. A commercial poultry business is not a permitted use in the Residence B zoning district. Nor are the slaughtering, processing, and packaging of chickens. The suit also claims that a commercial poultry business is not a permitted accessory use to a principal residential use, and that a slaughterhouse is not a permitted accessory structure to a principal residential structure.

A Hartford Superior Court judge heard the case on Monday.  A ruling is expected soon.

Ray Martin, the planning and zoning chairman, said the simple text change requiring a site plan approval for accessory farm structures won’t require any changes to the town’s plan of conversation and development, nor will it negatively impact Easton’s farmers.

“We will continue to work to keep Easton a farming-friendly town, but at the same time we understand the concerns of our residential neighbors,” said Martin.

The planning and zoning commission will likely review and approve the draft amendment at its next meeting in May.

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