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Marshall Council approves butcher shop ordinance

MARSHALL — Marshall City Council members took action Tuesday that would make it possible for butcher shops or meat lockers to do some limited animal slaughtering within city limits. The council held a public hearing on proposed changes to city ordinances that would allow limited slaughtering at butcher or meat locker businesses by permit.

The hearing didn’t bring forward any objections from local residents, and council members voted to approve the changes, as well as changes that would also allow landscaping businesses in general industrial districts.

“Some time ago, a business owner approached the city because he was interested in opening a butcher shop in Marshall,” said Assistant Planning and Zoning Administrator Ilya Gutman. The business owner was also interested in being able to do some slaughtering of animals at the shop. “We reviewed the ordinances, and to our surprise we found there is no place in town where it is possible,” Gutman said.

City staff were proposing to change city ordinances to allow some limited slaughtering of animals in butcher shops in general business and industrial districts in Marshall. If the amendment passed, limited animal slaughtering at a butcher shop or meat locker would be allowed with a conditional use permit.

Gutman noted that the ordinance change doesn’t spell out exactly what “limited” slaughter means, which gives the city some control over what limits to place on a business.

“Those limitations will be set up during the conditional use hearing,” Gutman said.

Although the butcher shop amendment sparked most of the discussion, it wasn’t the only ordinance amendment being proposed. The council was also being asked to consider an amendment allowing landscaping businesses in general industrial districts. Landscaping was another type of business that was not listed in any zoning district, either, city staff said.

There were no members of the public at Tuesday’s hearing to comment on the proposal. However, at the council’s July 14 meeting, council member Russ Labat said he had gotten three or four questions from Marshall residents about the “slaughtering of animals” language.

“Everybody I talked to said they didn’t want slaughtering,” Labat said at the July 14 meeting. “But once I explained the situation, that it was going to be limited and what I thought was similar to what we used to have when the Butcher Block was in town, everybody was fine with it.”

At the hearing on Tuesday, council member Steven Meister had one question related to the amendment. If city ordinances include no places in Marshall where animal slaughtering is permitted, he said, how is Turkey Valley Farms able to slaughter turkeys?

“I was interested in that as well,” Gutman said. “I think they were grandfathered in. They were there before the whole thing came into place.”

Council members voted unanimously to approve the ordinance amendments for butcher shops and landscaping businesses.

The public reaction to the ordinance amendment was very different from March 2019, when the Chasing Our Tails pet treat company sought a permit to move into the former County Fair supermarket. At that time, a packed crowd at a meeting of the Marshall Planning Commission objected to the move, citing concerns about noxious smells or other negative effects from animal processing. Company owner Steve Trachtenberg said those fears were unfounded, and the property would be used for dehydrating and smoking pet treat ingredients, as well as packaging treats.

As a result of public reaction, Chasing Our Tails pulled out of the permit request and moved to facilities in Minneota and Tracy instead.

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