Johnson County commissioners denied a permit Monday to a company wanting to build a slaughterhouse on an organic farm.
Madina Farms, which was established last year, applied for the permit in January for a proposed farm off County Road 418, about 5 miles southwest of Grandview.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to deny the permit, citing the proposed farm’s proximity to nearby residences and saying that its slaughterhouse could affect property values.
But a Madina Farms representative told the court that the community’s opposition to the slaughterhouse was because members of the company’s management team are Muslim.
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“If we’re open and forward about what the perception is, the perception of the county is that they have Muslims moving into Johnson County, setting up a slaughterhouse,” Madina Farms business consultant Christopher Pippin said during Monday’s hearing.
“If this type of perception is what’s really bringing up the problems, then that's a completely different issue.”
The court concluded that a majority of the proposed farm location was 1,000 feet from the nearest residence and that it would cause “undue hardship” to the neighboring area, Commissioner Larry Woolley said.
The state allows county commissioner to deny slaughterhouse permits if the court believes the slaughterhouse causes either of those two problems.
“I would not purchase a home going into a new subdivision or into the new growth that Grandview has with unknown concerns that way,” Commissioner Rick Bailey told Pippin. “I’m not trying to be argumentative with you, sir. I just don’t want to leave the message here that this was about religion, race or creed. This was about property rights and property values.”
Kamal Ahmed, president of Madina Farms, was reached by the Star-Telegram on Monday but declined to comment.
Before the hearing, he told the Cleburne Times-Review he felt there had been a “misunderstanding in the community” about the farm, which would keep about 100 goats, 20 sheep, 10 cows and 100 chickens on site.
Animal buyers could have their purchases slaughtered for free.
“This is really more of a ranch-style farm with the slaughterhouse being just a small part of it,” Ahmed told the Times-Review. “As far as odor or smell, that is not going to be a problem because we are not going to be a large-scale operation, and we’re not going to be storing meat on site.”
Grandview Mayor Bart Clark said the size of the slaughterhouse doesn’t matter. With home builders acquiring land southwest of Grandview, the mention of a nearby slaughterhouse could stall development, he said.
“My main points were that while I wanted private property rights respected, when those rights significantly begin affecting everybody’s rights around them, the community does have a right to have a voice in it,” Clark said.