A group of Tranquility Drive residents fighting to keep a slaughterhouse from operating on their residential street have won their court case after a state judge ruled in their favor.
“We are happy that the court saw it our way,” said Joseph Calzone, a Tranquility Drive resident who spearheaded the fight against the proposed slaughterhouse. “It should have never been a question to begin with.”
Last year, four residents sued Easton’s Zoning Board of Appeals for upholding a permit it issued to Andrew Blum of Trumbull to allow him to operate a chicken slaughterhouse on Tranquility Drive. The lawsuit claimed a commercial poultry business is not a permitted use in the residential zoning district, nor are the slaughtering, processing, and packaging of chickens. The suit also claimed 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.
Hartford Superior Court Judge Marshall Berger on Wednesday agreed with the residents that a slaughterhouse is not permissable use for the property “the court cannot infer that the slaughtering use is implicitly permitted because the zoning regulations specifically carve out an exception for processing and otherwise do not provide for the us.”
In his ruling, Berger cited the court case Enfield v. Enfield Shade Tobacco LLC. In that case, the town of Enfield sued Shade Tobacco LLC , growers of tobacco leaves for cigar wrappers, to stop the company from landing and taking off its pesticide-spraying helicopter in a residential zone. Shade Tobacco argued that the helicopter was a piece of farm equipment and didn’t need a special permit from the town. After a trial court judge ruled in favor of the town of Enfield, Shade Tobacco took its case to the state Supreme Court. In 2003, the state Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision.
In 2021, Blum purchased a three-acre lot on 59 Tranquility Drive for $183,000 under the Connecticut State Police Barracks trust with the intent of operating a chicken farm. Philip Doremus, then Easton’s Zoning Enforcement Officer, approved Blum’s 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 on the property.
After Tranquility Drive residents learned of the permit, they urged the Zoning Board of Appeals to reject the permit, citing concerns about potential noxious odors, their safety and the negative impact on their property values. Some 70 residents in and around the neighborhood signed a petition opposing the slaughterhouse. When the Zoning Board of Appeals upheld the permit, the residents sued the ZBA.
Blum said the court’s ruling against his proposed slaughterhouse doesn’t impact his chicken farm, which he operates on the property where he built a 1,200-square-foot home with the approval of the town’s zoning department.
“It’s no big deal. I can still operate my chicken farm,” said Blum, who sells has several dozen chickens and sells the eggs directly to customers.
Blum can appeal the judge’s ruling to the state Appellate court has to decide to take the case.
The lawsuit has prompted Easton’s Planning and Zoning Commission to draft 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.