A proposal to open a halal butchery facility in Alexandria hit a snag Saturday after some local business owners and dog owners objected. DC Poultry Market wants to open a facility that would sell fresh, humanely killed chickens on Colvin Street in a mostly industrial area of Alexandria between Duke Street and railroad tracks. There are no residential properties in the immediate area, but pet businesses abound: Pinnacle Pet Spa & More, Frolick Dogs, Dogtopia, and the Wholistic Hound Academy.
Therein lay a problem. Though city staff and Alexandria’s planning commission recommended approving DC Poultry Market’s application, dog lovers showed up to the Alexandria City Council’s March 16 meeting to object on olfactory grounds (“My dog can smell when there’s a cookie down the block,” one resident said) and on proximity to poultricide (“Knowing that my dogs may be walked by a business that holds chickens in a windowless room before their throats are slit while fully conscious does not make me feel that my dogs are in a safe environment,” another said).
One nearby business owner said he was worried about already limited parking on the street, while Sandy Modell, who owns Wholistic Hound Academy, expressed concern that adding chicken slaughter to her neighborhood could cost her customers and impede future development: “We’re not Del Ray. We’re not Old Town. What is your vision for this area? Is it dilapidated warehouses for the next 30 years? If you approve this business, it will be.”
Facebook is usually a good way to take the temperature of Alexandria residents. In the Facebook group My Dog Digs Del Ray (full disclosure: I am a member of this group, as well as a resident of that neighborhood, which in fact hosts a nice butcher shop) commenters urged one another to contact the council to object and argued points like the fact that dogs often coexist with chickens on farms. Some indicated revulsion about a DC Poultry Market service that allows customers to choose their chicken and then wait while it’s killed, as well as how the business will fit in with the character of the neighborhood. At Saturday’s council meeting, many people argued that the process could have been better and there’s not enough parking as it is—familiar ground for local-politics watchers.
Complicating these arguments is the fact that this particular part of Alexandria is somewhat less quaint than Old Town: Should DC Poultry Market open, it will sit across from Alexandria’s Household Hazardous Waste & Electronics Recycling Center and about 1,760 feet from a city street and sewer facility. Dogs at neighboring businesses also must already endure the tempting aromas of cooked meat from the nearby Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company, Smoking Kow, and Philadelphia Cheesesteak Factory, which despite its name and location is not a factory in the traditional sense.
Abdul Mused of DC Poultry Market told the council his company operates similar facilities in other urban areas, including New York City. It plans to truck in the chickens every day from its farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and will store waste indoors in sealed containers that will be trucked away to be recycled at least every other day. Councilmembers had notably few questions about a business whose consideration ate more than an hour of their Saturdays, and in the end decided that since two councilmembers were absent on matrimonial matters (Councilmember John Taylor Chapman was getting married; Councilmember Canek Aguirre was attending a wedding) it would be best to table the issue and vote without additional public hearing on the matter at the next legislative meeting, which is scheduled for March 26.
Correction: This post originally gave an incorrect date for the next legislative meeting.