Elmer Blackburne, a goateed 73-year-old, unfolded a battered card table on the sidewalk in front of the building’s propped-open door, and laid his megaphone on top of it. A worker in blue coveralls poked out his head, and then the door jerked closed.
So it has gone for the last few Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, when the neighbors have gathered to picket the site of a former auto repair shop that will be R & B Live Poultry, once renovations inside are completed. Neighbors have filed a lawsuit to stop the project.
The sign on the building’s exterior, decorated with photographs of various animals, says that R & B will sell “chicken, fowl, rooster, guinea hen, goat, sheep, lamb.” The signs in the pickets’ hands read, “Stop the Slaughterhouse” and “No Animal Markets Next to Homes.”
For weeks, neighbors have been protesting the arrival of the slaughterhouse, saying that it will breed disease, produce noxious smells and torment asthma sufferers with clouds of chicken feathers.
On the Edge of a Residential Strip, Fear of Feathers
According to federal and state officials, the city is home to about 90 slaughterhouses, and this is not the first time the arrival of such a business has alarmed its prospective neighbors. A bill that has already passed the State Senate and is awaiting action by the Assembly would prohibit slaughterhouses in New York City within 1,500 feet of a residential building. However, such legislation would probably not affect existing businesses like R & B.