The Greater Sioux Falls Chamber of Commerce has announced its official opposition to a proposed ordinance that would ban the construction or operation of new slaughterhouses within city limits, urging members to vote against it this November.
The Chamber announced the position Friday morning, becoming the latest organization to pick a side in the fight over Wholestone Farms’ plan to build a $500 million pork processing plant in northeastern Sioux Falls.
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The plan has received pushback from Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls, a group that called for city government to halt the project due to what they called “profound implications on the health, safety, and quality of life of area residents.”
When that failed, the group successfully gathered signatures to place the proposed ordinance on the November ballot, which would add the following to the city’s code:
- Notwithstanding any other provision of this Code to the contrary, no new Slaughterhouse may be constructed, or be permitted to operate, within the city limits.
- This section does not apply to any existing Slaughterhouse constructed and operating before the effective date of this section. This section does not apply to the expansion or alteration of any Slaughterhouse constructed and operating before the effective date of this section so long as such expansion or alteration occurs at the existing site.
The Chamber’s release on their position said the ordinance “changes the rules in the middle of the game for a business that has followed all regulations set forth to date,” and calling it “bad for the economic future of our city.”
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The Chamber also added that residents voted to approve the city’s current zoning ordinances in 2014, and that the parcel of land that would hold Wholestone’s plant “was approved in 2017 without opposition.”
In a statement, Luke Minion, Wholestone’s board chairman, said, “We’re once again grateful for the support of the Sioux Falls community.”
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Minion has pushed back on claims of the plant’s negative effect on Sioux Falls, saying that modern technology means the plant is more prepared to deal with issues of odor and wastewater treatment.
Meanwhile, Robert Peterson, the executive director of Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls, said in a statement that business leaders across Sioux Falls are raising the alarm about “the threat more massive hog-slaughtering operations pose to our economic future.”
“To attract investment in high-wage jobs, we need fresh air, clean water, and neighborhoods where workers can raise a family,” he stated.
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While the Chamber opposes the ordinance, several of its members are among the businesses that signed an April letter calling for Mayor Paul TenHaken and the Sioux Falls City Council to halt the project, including POET, Bird Dog Equity Partners and GreatLIFE.
The Chamber also announced their support for Constitutional Amendment D, which would expand Medicaid in South Dakota if approved by voters this November.
The Chamber said expanding health services “will improve the overall health of our workforce, which leads to healthy businesses and a healthy economy,” adding that “expanding Medicaid makes sense economically and South Dakota can afford to do so.”