September 4, 2008
fight on the horizon
By STEPHEN BEALE
Plans to build a slaughterhouse in town suffered a setback at a zoning board meeting
Tuesday night as the applicant and opponents alike said they were digging in for a protracted fight.
"This is just the beginning," said Negash Abdelkader, who wants to build the slaughterhouse at his 83 Joppa Hill Road home near the Bedford town line. "We are not going to stop. We're going to continue no matter what it takes."
Danielle Mazzella, a real estate agent turned neighborhood activist, said she was gearing up for the long haul. She has said the smell of the slaughterhouse could even carry as far as the Riddle Brook Elementary School, less then three miles away in Bedford.
A slaughterhouse is permitted in the area by a special exception, but the zoning board denied it since Abdelkader wanted to continue living there with his family. The board said he needed to apply again for a variance.
Mazzella said the denial was a victory for her effort.
"I'm thrilled that it hasn't been accepted," Mazzella said. "I know there is a long road ahead of us."
She came to the zoning board meeting last night armed with a petition asking for the slaughterhouse to be denied and 224 supporting signatures, from both Bedford and Goffstown residents. More than 50 people turned out for the hearing. When the zoning board voted against the slaughterhouse, some in the crowd clapped.
Mazzella lives about 150 feet away from Abdelkader.
In his application for the special exception, Abdelkader had said the slaughterhouse would be at least 100 feet away from the nearest home or business and would not be visible from the road. The facility where sheep, lambs and goats would be killed is about a 1,500-square-foot section of a barn. The single 4.2-acre lot today has a home and three-car garage on it.
Abdelkader wants the slaughterhouse so he can prepare the meat for his family according Muslim standards. He has said he would welcome Jewish and Christian customers and wants to sell his surplus meat to at least one store in Manchester.
He said his goal was to offset the costs of procuring the meat from New Jersey, not make a profit.
He has said he would not affect his neighbors.
"We're not trying to step on anybody's toes," Abdelkader said. "We're trying to protect everyone's interests. At the same time, we're trying to serve our community, but not at the expense of our neighbors."
This was the third time the slaughterhouse proposal had come before the zoning board.
On July 1 the board continued its hearing after deciding it should notify the town of Bedford. The hearing was again postponed on Aug. 5 after officials realized the notice of the meeting incorrectly said the slaughterhouse would be 150 square feet, instead of 1,500.
Abdelkader said he was not disappointed by the latest delay. He said he would be back in the town offices today with his application for the variance.
At the Aug. 5 meeting, a private attorney had pointed out to the board that Abdelkader was proposing multiple uses for the same lot.
Last night, board chairman Catherine Whooten said the town had received a letter from its attorney recommending that zoning officials treat the application as a variance instead of a special exception because the slaughterhouse would share land with a home.
One zoning board member asked how the town dealt with traditional farms, where cattle might have been kept near homes. "We never necessarily clarified how it would fit under today's zoning unless they wanted to do some kind of change or expansion," responded Derek Horne, the zoning code enforcement officer.
Horne said the town has never had an application like the one it had received from Abdelkader.