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Slaughterhouse appeal hearing Tuesday

The former Storke Dairy in Centerville was purchased in June for a meat processing plant.
Kurt Hildebrand/R-C File Photo

A hearing for a lawsuit seeking to overturn the denial of a meat processing plant at Centerville is scheduled for Tuesday.

Senior Judge Janet Berry has been assigned to hear the case, which was filed roughly a month after county commissioners’ Nov. 13, 2019, denial of an appeal that would have allowed a slaughterhouse on the former Storke Dairy.

Small meat processing plants are allowed on agricultural land under Douglas County Code with a special use permit.

It has been almost a year since Karin Sinclair first proposed converting the Storke Dairy into a plant to process no more than 60 cows a week.

In June, Sinclair completed the $1.75 million purchase of the 58.35-acre property located at Highway 88 and Centerville Lane.

Sinclair went before the Douglas County Planning Commission in September 2019 seeking a permit and two variances. After a significant debate, planning commissioners split 3-3. Because the seventh member didn’t attend one of the aye votes changed to a denial in order to allow Sinclair to appeal to county commissioners. Even if Sinclair had won the vote, neighbors could have appealed the issue to county commissioners.

An estimated 400 people turned out for the Nov. 13, 2019, appeal hearing at the CVIC Hall in Minden, more than could safely occupy the building. Overflow was set up in Minden Park where residents could listen to the action.

Reno attorney Charles Burcham, representing the county, said the hearing featured testimony from around 80 residents over the course of four hours.

Commissioners denied Sinclair’s appeal 5-0.

Sinclair attorney Carolyn Tanner filed a 37-page response arguing that the number of people or the size of the record was irrelevant to whether the use was legal.

“The county insists on using the term ‘slaughterhouse’ at every available opportunity in a rather odd attempt to sway the decision maker that the project is in fact a parade of horribles rather than an accepted and necessary agricultural use that is sorely needed in this Right to Farm County,” Tanner wrote.

She said the commissioners actions to deny the appeal were arbitrary and capricious and was not based on substantial and significant evidence.

Tuesday’s will be the first hearing in the case, where attorneys will likely argue their positions. It will be up to Berry to decide whether to set another hearing, rule from the bench or issue a written ruling.

Any ruling Berry makes is subject to appeal to a higher court.