The Whatcom County Council was not prepared to approve new rules allowing meat packinghouses on farmland, so the issue will come to another public hearing no sooner than Sept. 10.
Council took two hours of public testimony on Tuesday, July 23, then deliberated on the packinghouse ordinance for another 90 minutes before voting to hold another public hearing. In its deliberations, the council made major changes to the slaughterhouse rules, necessitating a re-do of the hearing.
One change, part of a continuing effort to make the packinghouses small-scale, was to change the maximum allowed size from 30,000 to 20,000 square feet. Only plants smaller than 7,000 square feet could be built without a public hearing, according to the latest changes to the ordinance.
County leaders have been working on a proposal to allow packinghouses - initially referred to as "slaughterhouses" - on farmland since June 2012.