Proposed Butcher Operation’s Zoning Appeal Dropped

BERLIN – A property owner’s appeal of a county decision regarding his plans to butcher and sell beef has been dropped.

Though the Worcester County Board of Zoning Appeals was set to hear an appeal related to Newark resident Robert Ewell’s plan to sell beef from the cattle he raises on his farm, the item was pulled from this week’s meeting agenda.

“Upon further evaluation, it has been determined there is a more appropriate method to achieve the same result,” said Mark Cropper, Ewell’s attorney.

Earlier this spring, Cropper asked staff from the Worcester County Department of Development Review and Permitting for an interpretation of Ewell’s plans to “slaughter, package and sell livestock products (beef) from his cattle that he raises on his farm.” Ewell’s property, zoned A-1 agricultural, is located on Croppers Island Road.

The staff response, issued May 7, states that while agriculturally zoned land can be used to raise and sell livestock, and can be used for roadside stands offering processed agricultural products for sale, it cannot be used for the slaughtering of livestock.

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“A slaughterhouse is specifically listed as a special exception use in the I-2 Heavy Industrial District per §ZS 1-213(c)(1),” the report reads. “Therefore, since it is not listed in the A-1 District regulations, it is a prohibited use per §ZS 1-105(b).”

County staff indicated that a text amendment could be an alternative to a hearing with the Worcester County Board of Zoning Appeals on the issue.

“It is our collective opinion that a text amendment would be required in order to slaughter livestock raised on the farm,” the staff report reads. “To accomplish your goal of allowing it without a hearing before the Board of Zoning Appeals as a special exception use, one suggestion would be to establish it as an accessory use in the A-1 District for ‘on-farm slaughtering of livestock (excluding rendering plants or facilities)’ which would be accessory to the agricultural use for livestock that are not only raised on the parcel on which the slaughtering activity is occurring, but also accessory to the sale of meat products at the roadside stand use on the parcel on which the slaughtering activity is occurring. Additionally, there could be adequate limitations proposed on the size of the building/use area associated with this activity, as well as enhanced setbacks, screening, etc., to reduce nuisance to adjoining property owners.”

Croppers Island Road residents had expressed concerns about the proposal to the county.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.