Slaughterhouse may stay open until ruling

08:10 AM CDT on Wednesday, August 30, 2006

By JIM GETZ / The Dallas Morning News

The city of Kaufman, whose Zoning Board of Adjustment had ordered the Dallas Crown Inc. horse meat plant to close by Sept. 30, has agreed to allow it to stay open until state District Judge Michael Chitty rules after a trial set for Jan. 29.

Kaufman has cited Dallas Crown for nearly 30 wastewater violations, saying material from the slaughterhouse exceeded city standards and strained the city sewage plant's abilities.

After neighbors repeatedly complained about flies, spilled blood, exposed animal parts and a stench, the board in March declared the business a nuisance to public health and safety.

Soon afterward, Waldo Inc., which owns the building and its equipment, and Dallas Crown, which operates the business, sued to block the forced Sept. 30 closing.

Because both the city and Dallas Crown have asked for summary judgments from Judge Chitty, he could still hold a hearing this fall. In such a hearing, City Attorney David Dodd said, the judge could rule entirely for one side or the other, give each side part of what it wants or deny both sides anything they have asked for. How or whether the trial occurs could depend on that hearing.

But the local legal moves could be meaningless if Congress bans horse slaughter for human consumption. The House plans a vote on Sept. 7, and industry officials have conceded that Congress has the authority to enact a ban.