Hog processing request stinks, council deems

Vote 3-1 against slaughter plant with 14 jobs at south city limits
Reporter Editor

Feral (wild) hogs per week were envisioned for slaughter at facility proposed to city. Feral (wild) hogs per week were envisioned for slaughter at facility proposed to city. Faced with balancing economic gain against a quality of life issue, Rockdale’s city council voted with their noses Thursday, rejecting a feral hog slaughter plant on a 3-1 vote.

The plant, which would have been targeted for a location at the south city limits—near the Beverly Drive-Hickory Street intersection— needed two amendments in Rockdale’s code of ordinances to proceed.

Council member Nathan Bland made a motion to approve the requested amendments, but it died for lack of a second.

Councilman Colby Fisher then made a motion to leave the ordinances unchanged, effectively ending the operation’s chances within the Rockdale city limits.

It passed 3-1 with Fisher and council members Joyce Dalley and Willie Phillips voting in favor and Bland against.

JOBS—Troy Davenport of Wild Boar Meats appeared before the council to request the ordinance changes.

He said the facility would be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to slaughter and process 50 animals a day.

Davenport said a U. S. Department of Agriculture representative would be on hand full time.

He said the facility would initially employ 13 to 14 persons “all but one of them local” and was envisioned to grow to the 20-25 job range within a year.

Davenport said pay would be $15 an hour.

After questioning from the council, Davenport said some live animals would be on the site at all times, although it was not envisioned as a “feed lot” type operation where animals were fed to fatten them up.

Davenport said most of the $400,000 facility would be cold storage and that meat processed there—whole hogs initially but with specialty cuts as an option later—would be exported to Asia.

He said part of the facility would be inside the city limits with a holding plant outside the city. Davenport said city water and wastewater was a consideration in determining the location.

He said the operation would also buy wild hogs, if certain federal standards are met, and would pay over market price.

Davenport said the business is also in talks with other cities. “We’re in about the same stage that we are here,” he said.

ODORĀ­— Mayor John King expressed two major reservations with the location.

“The biggest, of course, is the odor,” he said. “Our prevailing winds in Rockdale come from the south and they’re going to take the odor right over town.”

“There’s also a creek bed in the area you’re talking about,” King said. ‘Occasionally it overflows and I’m concerned about what might get in it.”

Davenport said every effort would be made to keep the odor down, noting that there is a line of trees on the north side of the property and extensive fencing was planned, which would also alleviate the odor somewhat.

“There’s no perfect solution,” he said. “It is what it is.”

Realtor Judith Matula spoke out against the proposal. “I grew up in Tyler where there was a hide plant,” she said. “It was absolutely awful just opening your door. That smell consumed Tyler.”

Matula said she was also concerned property in Rockdale wouldn’t sell once the plant, and its odor, started up.

“You’re destroying the value of people’s property,” she said.

Council visitor Sharon Cloud also spoke against the facility, citing odor concerns.

“I don’t think this needs to be in the city limits of any city, particularly Rockdale,” she said.

Davenport said there were two similar facilities already in operation in Texas, one in Fort Worth and one outside Devine.

Bland gave a statement to preface his motion to amend the ordinances currently regulating keeping swine within the city limits and prohibiting slaughter and processing.

“(In campaigning for the council), I talked to a lot of people and kept hearing ‘we’ve got to get some businesses in this town’,” he said.

“If it’s 10 jobs that’s 10 more than we’ve got now,” he said. “There’s even a possibility for some extra income from trapping. This seems like a good place to start.”

“We are an agriculture community,” Bland said.

Bland then made his motion, Mayor King waited about 30 seconds before noting the motion had failed for lack of a second.

Fisher then made his successful motion to leave the current ordinances intact and deny the slaughter plant.

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