Thursday, May 29, 2014

Protest against proposed New Square poultry plant set 

As a poultry plant operator puts the finishing touches on unapproved plans for the massive facility, opponents plan a protest outside the village site on Sunday afternoon.

Opponents are focusing on the $3 million plant's potential environmental impacts on nearby residential neighborhoods — not only in the Hasidic Jewish village of New Square but bordering homes in New Hempstead. They want a $1.6 million grant from the New York Empire State Development Fund earmarked for the project to be rescinded.

Among the speakers at the 2 p.m. "Stop the Slaughterhouse" rally will be Assemblyman Kenneth Zebrowski, County Executive Ed Day, and neighbors of the proposed plant. Zebrowski has called on the state to withdraw its grant.

Called Heritage Park, the facility is planned for the intersection of Apta Boulevard and Tetiyuz Way, across from Rovitz Place in New Square. The plant would process 5,000 chickens a day, according to the operator's plans.

Robert Rhodes, chairman of Preserve Ramapo, said a lawsuit by New Hempstead and the county challenging the plant is likely if New Square approves the facility, as expected.

Rhodes said the plant's economic benefits for New Square, if they exist, don't justify the environmental degradation to the neighborhood, the use of water, truck traffic, the toxins, and potential odors.

He said he believes many New Square residents don't want the plant near their homes, but won't break with their religious leadership.

"This is an environmental fight, not a zoning fight or bashing the Hasidic community," Rhodes said. "We would rather discourage the village's leadership from making a decision and then ending up spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs."

The plant would be 26,250 square feet – down from the 50,000 initially proposed – and will address all the environmental issues raised by opponents, the operator's lawyer, Ira Emanuel, said Wednesday.

Emanuel said the operator, Adir Poultry, could request a hearing and consideration by the New Square Board of Trustees in a few months.

Emanuel said Adir will be meeting all the state, federal, local and county requirements for the plant.

The Rockland Planning Department still maintains the plant is not suitable for a residential area, but has offered 22 modifications – mostly permits – the operator must meet.

New Square-based Adir Poultry is seeking to replace its now-closed 5,000-square-foot slaughterhouse at the edge of the village. The plant slaughtered more than 355,000 chickens in 2008. That facility was shut down in 2010 by the federal government after it was discovered the operators had been selling uninspected poultry since 2002, among other violations.


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