Board rules Dallas plant can't operate as slaughterhouse

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by CRAIG CIVALE

WFAA

Posted on April 18, 2012 at 7:36 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 1 at 10:05 PM

Columbia Packing Company

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DALLAS — On Wednesday, the Dallas Board of Adjustment Requirements decided unanimously that Columbia Packing Company can no longer operate as a slaughterhouse.

Before that meeting, the company conceded that it no longer wanted to operate as a slaughterhouse, and it asked the city to let it remain in business as a meat-packing plant.

There was a large crowd at the meeting, with dozens from both sides who came to be heard. Many were residents opposed to the plant, but other plant supporters and employees attended the meeting wearing T-shirts that read "Save Columbia."

The plant shut down in January after it was found to be discharging pigs' blood into the Trinity River.

Much of the discussion Wednesday involved the quality of life in the neighborhood around the plant. Residents argued the facility had a horriffic smell.

"You couldn't hardly breathe sometimes," said Erma Caesar, who opposes the plant. "You would try to keep from smelling it, and hold your breath, and it would make you sick. It was a horrible, horrible scent."

Those who supported the plant said they were just trying to save some jobs.

"We've got 100 folks out there that we're trying to keep working," said the plant's attorney, Roger Albright. "We can't do that if the city doesn't work with us. We're counting on the city working with [us]. That's why we were willing to work with them today."

The plant will remain closed, though Columbia has requested a certificate of occupancy from the city to be able to operate as a meat-packing facility. That ruling is expected to take days, if not weeks.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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