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Future of Black Earth butcher uncertain

BLACK EARTH, Wis. - 23483566

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Complaints from Village residents have prompted the board to push Black Earth Meats out. Village President Patrick Toge tells WISC-TV they welcome business.

He said that for the last four to five years the village has averaged 50 complaints per year about the Black Earth Meats. The complaints range from excessive animal noise and traffic to blood and other by products in the street.

The slaughterhouse is connected to a retail store, which is not being asked to move. Village residents tell WISC-TV their location on Mills Street has been a slaughterhouse for more than 60 years. Toge said they received 37 police calls about the business this year.

"The slaughter portion is my business; this business doesn't exist without the slaughter," said manager Bartlett Durand. He says the neighbors' complaint's existed before he and his business partners took over in 2008. "We have 40 employees with familes and 200 businesses who rely on us."

 After nearly four decades as a dairy farmer, John Gates now makes his living raising sheep. For the last two years, he's been selling his animals to Black Earth Meats.

"They go to Black Earth Meats around July they start showing up there. That's my income for the year off the sheep," said Gates. Black Earth Meats specializes in organic and locally grown meat. But complaints about the growing business has prompted the village board to push the slaughterhouse out.

"By ordering me out, at least the slaughter portion out, they're eliminating all value in this business. I can't sell it I can't finance it," said Bartlett.

Mary Mickelson has lived near the slaugherhouse for more than 40 years. "Our concerns are that on a daily basis what the neighbors have to view, I believe no private citizen should have to view," said Mickelson.

Durand say the business has doubled in size at their current facility. "We're entirely within our rights what we're doing, we're doing it as effeceintly and cleanly as possible," he said.

Mickelson argued they need to move. "This is a residential area it's not zoned for all that." Gates said he has a good working relationship with the business and hopes they won't have to move. "It concerns me when you can legislate a business out of existence," he said.

The business owners have 120 days to present a plan to the village board to move the slaughterhouse outside the village. If they don't present that plan, they could face legal action from the village. 

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