SIOUX FALLS, SD (Dakota News Now) – You’ve probably seen the “Stop the Smell” TV commercials, and you know about the lawsuit against the city of Sioux Falls.
In two weeks, voters in the city will decide on a “slaughterhouse law” that prohibits future slaughterhouses within the city limits. This is from a 170-acre pork processing plant known as “Bulkstone Farms” at I-229 and Benson Road in Sioux.
For the second time in three weeks, the measure was on the ballot today at a meeting of the capital’s Rotary Club among the city’s influential business leaders.
Gov. Christy Nome said two weeks ago that Rotary’s denial of the Wholestone plant would set a bad precedent that would drive new businesses to the city and state.
Today, Brendan Johnson, legal counsel for Smart Growth Sioux Falls — the group that collected 10,000 petitions to put the measure on the ballot — suggested the opposite would happen.
“It’s not like all of a sudden, ‘Oh my gosh, I was thinking of bringing my new tech company or warehouse to Siusi Falls, but oh my god, something stopped them. 6 million pig pen, what does that mean to me?” Johnson said. “Uh. Not the same thing.”
If we want to attract business, if we want to attract young professionals, maybe the best thing is not to put all our eggs in a 6 million pig a year pig facility. Slaughter house. I think this is a pro-business attitude. Some disagree with me, and that’s fine. We’ll let the voters decide.
Johnson said he spoke to many residents who don’t want Sioux Falls to merge with nearby towns known for their pork processing plants, and how the Wholestone plant will be one of the first things people see when they travel. To Sioux Falls from the north on I-229, just off Interstate 29.
” For many of us, we don’t want to be Worthington. We don’t want to be Sioux City,” Johnson said. “Well, we want to be Sioux Falls, and the first thing to greet tourists is to greet new entrepreneurs coming to town, not six million pork slaughterhouses a year.”
A former U.S. attorney says there’s a “brain drain” in Sioux Falls and South Dakota, with some of the brightest young minds leaving the city and state.
“The way the labor force is changing, people are choosing their cities not necessarily where the jobs are, but where they want to live,” Johnson said. The truth is, most people don’t want to smell like a slaughterhouse when they go out to Great Bear (a skiing and outdoor trail park).
Odor, of course, was the heart of the anti-slaughterhouse movement. That’s the marketing plan behind Smart Growth Sioux Falls TV ads telling voters to “stop the smell” and showing people with clothes hangers up their noses.
Wholestone’s executives told Dakota News Now earlier this year that they have spent about $50 million on “state-of-the-art” technology to reduce odors, and that Sioux Falls residents need not fear the same smell from Smithfield. Food plant north of downtown.
“I think it’s unfair to compare a century-old facility to a state-of-the-art processing plant,” said Christine Erickson, chair of Sioux Falls Open Business, which is leading opponents of the rule. “There is nothing like this in the country. This is the only place with such technology. So we should be fortunate and lucky to have an institution that pays enough attention to our environment and thinks about adding food production to the industry.
“I don’t think the world has ever seen a slaughterhouse that didn’t smell,” Johnson said. “It’s true that a slaughterhouse built today doesn’t smell as bad as one built 50 years ago. I won’t argue with that. But you can’t argue that there won’t be some smell.
According to Rob Peterson, treasurer of Smart Growth Sioux Falls, smell is subjective, and how one person smells something may not be the same way another person smells it.
Community leaders in Fremont, Nebraska, said in a recent Sioux Falls Business article that the four-year-old Wholestone plant has been odorless and a boost to the city.
Peterson told the Rotary crowd that the plant was not an accurate reference.
“Fremont doesn’t have a drainage lake, so it’s never going to be the same,” Peterson said. “It’s much smaller in scale. Even then, because they were under mass management, they were often cited for improper disposal of waste and inhumane slaughter of animals.
The extent to which slaughterhouses protect water quality in the Sioux Falls area has been a matter of great debate. Johnson noted that the river already has an “F” rating from the Environmental Protection Agency.
“We’ve spent a lot of time and a lot of money over the last 15 years trying to clean up the Big Sioux River,” Peterson said. “If we allow one million gallons of pig manure and two million gallons of treated liquid to be dumped into the Great Seuss River every day,” Peterson said. Big Sioux River. Our name – Sioux Falls. And I don’t think that’s the right direction for the city.
As a Leif Erickson camper and camp counselor, Peterson said no one at the camp was allowed to touch the Big Sioux River water because it was so dirty. During a recent visit to Scheel’s sporting goods store, Peterson noticed that one of the new fudge treats on sale was called “Big Sioux Sludge.”
“We know it, and we have to laugh about it so we don’t cry,” Peterson said.
The city invested in a new sewage treatment plant near the Hillstone plant. Erickson said the availability of that facility, building the plant within city limits, made sense to build on the proposed site.
“If it’s not here, it’s not going to happen,” Erickson told The Dakota News two weeks ago. “I’ll tell you, I talked to the county commissioners. They do not have the infrastructure to have a wastewater treatment facility. We have that technology here in Sioux Falls and our city has been very forward thinking to make sure we connect to the Lewis and Clark (water treatment system) so we have enough water.
But Johnson said he spoke with industry experts who said there are sites within a few miles of the city that could host a Wholestone plant. He did not specify those places.
Preventing traffic congestion is another incentive for Smart Growth Sioux Falls.
Erickson told DNN that being located near the intersection of two major interstates (I-29 and I-90) would reduce traffic congestion.
“Trucks don’t go through the city center,” Erickson said.
“These trucks – there’s no way they’re not getting off Interstate 90, right,” Johnson said. “Right? So, the road on I-90, roughly, we’re talking about 100 trucks with live hogs and 130 with dead hogs every day. That’s a lot of traffic. Will Phillips Avenue go down? No, but a lot of us use I-90.” Many of us also use I-299 and that will have an impact.
The message Johnson echoed more than any other Monday with the DNN and Rotary crowd was that city voters — not big business or government — should decide on a business like slaughterhouses that creates unique conditions — the perceived odor, the perceived water pollution, and the perception of the city’s reputation as a slaughterhouse. .
That’s why Smart Growth Sioux Falls began its petition drive and sued Wholestone and the city over the permit to build the facility.
“Whole Stone has sidestepped voters’ interest in creating a custom butcher shop[for the proposed plant],” Johnson said. What we’re trying to do is say, ‘Hey, they broke the law by getting the license. They should never have been given, that’s why we took it to court and at the end of the day it’s up to the voters to decide. This is what we want. We do not want anyone, no matter how powerful, to be able to sidestep the will of the electorate.
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