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Canton Town Council may allow slaughterhouses

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CANTON - Town officials are considering whether to allow slaughterhouses that could process chickens, cows, pigs and other farm animals in the town’s rural zones.

The town council agreed to schedule a public hearing on the issue for 5 p.m. Jan. 14 in the municipal building, 60 Main St.

Town Supervisor David T. Button said all property owners in rurally-zoned sections of the town will be mailed postcards in advance of the meeting. The proposed local law would amend zoning code 70-24 to include slaughterhouses on the list of uses allowed in a rural zone. The issuance of a special permit would be required.

Codes Enforcement Officer Russell B. Lawrence IV said the town wants to have guidelines on the books because slaughterhouses are not currently permitted.

“Instead of making a change in the 11th hour, we’re trying to be pro-active,” Mr. Russell said. “This also gives more options to people who might want to develop this type of establishment.”

The proposed law defines a slaughterhouse as “any establishment primarily engaged in commercial abattoir operations and/or meat processing and packing operations.”

Mr. Button said North Country Pastured LLC, is considering establishing a slaughterhouse in Canton, but unless the zoning code is changed the company may have to look to another community.

Based in DeKalb Junction, North Country Pastured was awarded a $130,000 grant through the North Country Regional Economic Development Council. The company, managed by Renee C. Smith, also plans to bring a mobile livestock processing unit to St. Lawrence County.

“A number of groups have evaluated this proposal and find it an attractive economic development opportunity,” Mr. Button said. “If we don’t amend our code, Canton cannot benefit from this.”

The town’s Planning Board has recommended the zoning change. The St. Lawrence County Planning Board determined that the addition of slaughterhouses as a special permit in rural zones does not have county-wide or intermunicipal impacts and referred the matter back for local action.

However, county planning staff recommended that additional special permit standards be added for slaughterhouses. Also, adequate fencing and buffering should be part of the special use permit standard, county planners said.

The existing code allows special permits in rural zones for home occupations, airports and helicopter landing sites, camping grounds, small rural businesses, manufactured home parks, multiple family dwellings, kennels and animals hospitals, institutional uses, recreational facilities, transfer stations and recycling centers, two-family and group dwellings, small wind facilities, and motorized vehicle sales and/or repair.

A Massena couple, Cathy A. and Ronald G. Smith, 542 County Route 46, are in the midst of building a USDA-certified chicken slaughterhouse on their property.

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