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Story Exchange

Are Urban Industries Endangering Neighborhoods?

Louisville’s Rubbertown neighborhood is home to the largest carbide (a chemical compound) furnace in the world. Several miles east, the Butchertown neighborhood hosts one of the nation’s largest urban slaughterhouses. There were accidents at both of these facilities in the same week in late March, and the city is developing a new notification system for residents. Such a system is necessary, city officials say, because these facilities are in urban areas.

What dangers do these facilities present to the surrounding neighborhoods, and to the city as a whole? Should the plants be relocated? Can they be relocated? What is the future of urban industry, and what will happen to the workers if the plants move?

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Local News

BOZA Approves Changes At Swift Butchertown Plant

The JBS Swift Company will be allowed to move forward with enhancements at its meatpacking plant in Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood, but with certain conditions.

The Louisville Metro Board of Adjustment Monday approved a request from Swift to modify its zoning permit to complete construction of an enclosure where hogs are unloaded.    Swift will also be allowed to replace a boiler at the plant, but it cannot increase its production or the number of hogs it processes.

Swift had begun work on the hog enclosure last year without obtaining a permit, a mistake that company attorney Glenn Price blamed on a contractor’s oversight.

“In hindsight, would we have done it differently by making sure that the contractor got all his permits.  I can tell you absolutely so, we would’ve, even though it wasn’t our responsibility.  We probably would have followed up on it, because it’s caused us all this trouble,” Price told the board.

The trouble included objections from the Butchertown Neighborhood Association, which argued that the work amounts to an expansion of the plant, inconsistent with a land use plan approved by the Metro Council last year.    The plan calls for Swift to eventually re-locate the facility.

 The Courier-Journal reports that Swift must also spend more than $137,000 on aesthetic improvements in the area.    The company attorney says that requirement may be appealed.