By Joseph Domelowicz Jr.
The Everett City Council, in a Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, voted to recommend to the full body that a petition to approve a Halal meat slaughterhouse on Revere Beach Parkway be denied, following contradictory testimony offered by the petitioner and city inspectional services officials who had been tracking the proposal since last March.
On a voice vote Councilors voted unanimously to recommend unfavorable action at next Monday night’s City Council meeting and deny the petitioner permission to open his business.
During a nearly three hour subcommittee meeting Monday night, councilors extensively questioned the proponents, their attorney and city officials who have been in contact with the proponent starting in early March of this year.
Commissioner of Inspectional Services James Soper told the Council that unauthorized construction in the building, in particular the pouring of a new cement floor over the existing wooden floor without properly supporting the floor first, has made the building unsafe for habitation. Soper has ordered the building’s owner to make repairs to the building, including reinforcing the support for the floor joists and beams to provide structural, integrity above the basement level.
The proponents, through their attorney, Alfred Farese of Everett, testified that their business model should be allowed because it is designed to provide freshly processed chicken, lamb and goat meat for clientele that would likely include people of Muslim and Jewish faiths, as well as those seeking fresh, organic meat that is raised with no hormones or antibiotics.
The business owners said their business follows the tents of Muslim Halal meat preparation, which drains the blood from the animal for religious reasons and for those who are seeking a different, cleaner food experience.
They also testified that customers would enter the store, choose an animal from the pens they are kept in and have the option of watching from behind glass as the animal is slaughtered and prepared in a sealed room. Customers would then take the meat away with them. No meat is kept on the premises once it has been slaughtered and all by products are stored in a freezer until it is taken away by a company that specializes in recycling food waste.
According to Attorney Farese, the business owners require state and federal permits in order to operate and they would be subject to regular inspections by state and federal inspectors, as well as local health inspections.
When they were pressed about their history in other states, the owners also testified that they have had no problems or been cited for health or safety violations at any of their other locations. However, research by Councilor Fred Capone identified a variety of health inspection violations in several of their other stores including those in New York City and Philadelphia, for a variety of incidents from not having hot enough water at taps in prep areas, to lack of hand soap in restrooms and even in one case found mouse dropping and flies on the premises.
The disparity between the proponents’ testimony about their business practices and the violations uncovered by Capone, coupled with the testimony from Commissioner Soper that proper permitting procedures were not followed, seems to have created doubt in the Councilor’s minds that the business owners will operate in a safe and appropriate manner.