I attended most of the Carson City Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday evening and was disappointed, but not surprised, when commissioners voted 5-1 to approve a proposed slaughterhouse near residential neighborhoods just off Highway 50 in East Carson City.
It appeared to me as if three of the six commissioners read statements they had written before the meeting started, which means they were just going through the motions of listening to the many local residents/taxpayers who showed up to protest the Carson Valley Meats slaughterhouse, which had been rejected by Douglas County commissioners. Most of the cows are in Douglas County, but ranchers want to put their slaughterhouse in the more urban state capital.
Slaughterhouse proponents and their PR people are now calling it a "boutique meat processing facility," which reminds me of that old story about goats: No matter how much perfume you pour on a goat, it's still a goat. I'm not a real farmer, but that's something even I understand. As longtime Carson resident Frank Borecki told commissioners, "If farm-to-table is so important, then put the slaughterhouse on the farm, not at the table." Good point, Frank.
After the commission vote, Jennifer Verive, the opposition leader here in Carson – most proponents don't live and pay taxes in our county – told me that her group will keep fighting the slaughterhouse and will carry their fight to the Carson Board of Supervisors in the New Year. "It didn't seem like our arguments or data made any difference to the commissioners," Verive told me. "That (the approval) was the expected outcome. Still, it feels lousy."
"We have been relentless and ornery," she added, "and we've made a positive difference in this process" as it moves forward. Or, as we sports fans like to say, It ain't over ‘til it's over. After listening to all of the technical arguments Wednesday, I think the main consideration in the Supes' final decision on the slaughterhouse should be public opinion. The people most affected by this decision, nearby residents, are against it. They don't want it. Period.
I understand most of the technical arguments – the slaughterhouse meets the requirements etc., etc. – but the bottom line is that Carson City residents/taxpayers/voters who live near the Detroit Road site don't want it to be located there. Perhaps that's a "NIMBY" argument, but those homeowners have every right to defend their property values and quality of life. We've been talking a lot about quality of life around here lately, which raises an important question: How does a slaughterhouse improve our quality of life?
I also understand the all-too-familiar "all development is good development" argument made by slaughterhouse proponents. "It will be good for business" etc., etc. But if it's so good for business, why haven't Highway 50 businesses and the Chamber of Commerce endorsed this controversial project?
Planning commissioners, except for Commissioner Nathaniel Killgore, who again voted against the project (Attaboy!), seemed to ignore public opinion in making their unpopular decision. "We had a ten-to-one ratio of supporters there (at the Wednesday meeting)," Verive said, "and everyone had a beautifully prepared statement backed by data" explaining the 33 reasons they cited for not locating a slaughterhouse near residential neighborhoods in east Carson City.
My diplomatically worded message to Carson Valley Meats: "Process" your own damn cows in Douglas County, and not in our historic capital city. But seriously, I hear that Park Land and Cattle Co., is planning to build a state-of-the-art slaughterhouse on land it owns in Douglas County. That sounds like a solution everyone could live with.
Guy W. Farmer has been a Carson City resident since 1962.
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