Butchertown: The Butchers Were There First (11/19/09)
It seems a lot of people in Butchertown want the JBS-Swift plant on Story Avenue to lose its operating permit. They say it’s because the company began an expansion last year without the necessary building permit. But the larger truth is, they just don’t like the smell.
And I understand that. I’m not all that fond of it myself – especially on a muggy summer day.
But I think those who wish the plant would just go away are missing the bigger picture.
First, JBS-Swift currently employs more than 1,300 people. And if the company were forced to move, chances are it’d be to another state completely. No one who cares for this city wants to see that many good jobs just disappear.
But second, it’s important to keep in mind just who moved into whose neighborhood. That area of town didn’t become Butchertown last year. The meat-processing industry was there a century before any of the current residents were. Can anyone honestly claim they didn’t know the situation when they chose to live there?
Yes, the company has a responsibility to play by the rules and minimize its emissions as much as possible. And the city certainly should enforce the law. But just tossing JBS-Swift out of Butchertown would do real economic harm to the whole community. And I think it’s hard to justify that when everyone who moved next door did so with eyes wide open.
I’m Bill Lamb, and that’s my…Point of View.