August 21, 2008
slaughterhouse raises concerns
By JENN McDOWELL
A Goffstown resident on Joppa Hill Road is looking to start an animal processing operation on his
property, right on the town line with Bedford, something that has many residents in both towns talking.
Negash Abdelkader of 83 Joppa Hill Road wants to install a Halal processing plant about 600 feet from
the town line Bedford/ Goffstown town line, at which he and a couple of workers would slaughter animals
and deliver them to wholesale customers. Halal, Abdelkader explained, is the Muslim version of
Judaism’s “kosher.” The animals are slaughtered quickly while facing Mecca, and are prepared for
delivery on site.
“The only difference is that in Islam, any adult is capable of doing the slaughtering as opposed to
Judaism, where the rabbi has to be there to bless the animal,” he said.
“This is not a business that we are intending to make a profit. This is basically my religious
obligation to supply my own people and my family,” Abdelkader said, adding he would run the operation
out of a barn on his property.
Currently, he said, he buys Halal meat from a local market in Manchester, which has it shipped in from
New Jersey. By that time, the meat is not fresh. That store would be one of Abdelkader’s customers.
Abdelkader said he would be slaughtering about a dozen lambs, goats and cows per day after getting about half a dozen deliveries a week. The United States Department of Agriculture would inspect the facility regularly, he said.
The Goffstown zoning ordinance requires a special exception for the plan, which is now before the
town’s Zoning Board of Adjustment.
A public hearing on the plans for the 1,500-square-foot facility that began in July 1 was continued to
Aug. 5 and again to a third meeting taking place on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m., at the Goffstown Town
The first continuance resulted after the Zoning Board decided to look into whether the application had
regional impact, which would prompt notifying Bedford and the Southern New Hampshire Planning
The public hearing was continued the second time because the application mistakenly said the facility
would be 150 square feet instead of 1,500, according to Zoning Board minutes.
Goffstown zoning and code enforcement officer Derek Horne said the mistake was a typo as evidenced by
the sketches of the barn in the original plan, and added the public hearing would be advertised again
with the right dimensions. “They did provide a plan showing the entire barn to be that size,” he said.
In order to get the special exception waiver he seeks, Abdelkader must meet specific criteria outlined in Goffstown’s zoning ordinance, in addition to complying with the rest of the ordinance.
An applicant applying for this type of waiver must ensure the plans are consistent with the town’s
master plan, in that the site is appropriate for the proposed use; must prove that the neighborhood’s
character will not be significantly impacted and that the use will not propose a nuisance or hazard;
that the site s not appropriate.”
Many residents in both towns feel Abdelkader is not meeting some of the town’s requirements.
Bedford resident Danielle Mazzella, who lives at 487 Joppa Hill Road, is directly down a hill behind
Abdelkader’s property. She said she worries about the traffic, her property value and her well water.
Mazzella said about 90 percent of her property is in Bedford, but a small portion is actually over the
town line. There is a 14- acre empty lot owned by Joppa Hill Realty separating Mazzella’s land from
The portion of Joppa Hill Road that would allow access to Abdelkader’s property is unpaved, and
Mazzella said she worries about whether it will be able to handle the extra traffic.
She also said she has three young children, and worries the delivery trucks could pose a hazard, and is
also worried about the smell migrating to the nearby Riddle Brook School in Bedford.
“That odor is going to work its way down there, no problem,” said Mazzella, a real estate agent, adding
the summer months will strengthen the smell.
“If they postpone the first hearing because they felt it was going to have a grand regional impact ...
they should consider how it’s going to affect Bedford,” Mazzella said of the Goffstown Zoning Board.
Mazella said she is going to have an open house from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 28, at her home
to discuss the issue and gain signatures for a petition against the processing plant.
Bedford Town Manager Russ Marcoux said a letter was sent to the Goffstown Zoning Board prior to the
Aug. 5 meeting outlining their concerns for the impact it could have on Bedford, but said there’s not
really anything Bedford can do to stop the processing plant from becoming a reality.
“It’s not that we don’t have any concern for the people that live in that area, but it is a different
community. The Zoning Board is a quasi-judicial board, and you have to be very careful about any
political influence,” Marcoux said. “For us to take a position as a town against something in another
town, especially when it’s a zoning issue, is not appropriate.”