KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's happening again. Jefferson County commissioners voted against a proposed slaughterhouse in Strawberry Plains back in July. Now, a new bill in the Tennessee Senate could reverse that ruling.
"We thought surely this is over and now we can breathe. But here, it resurrects. It's kind of a zombie issue. You know, you can't kill it," said Harry House, a neighbor to the property.
House lives across the street from the site of the proposed site. He thought this dispute was over with.
In July, Jefferson County neighbors succeeded in shutting down plans for a slaughterhouse. County Commissioners had a split vote to not allow for the slaughterhouse, winning only by two votes. But, now the plan is back and this time it can affect people statewide.
"You think you get a small victory, but you know, something else is coming down the road," said Melinda Earnest, who lives near the property.
A new bill is going through the Tennessee legislature, SB2622. This bill would expand the definition of agricultural zoning to include businesses like dairy creameries, milk bottling plans and slaughterhouses. The last part is a big concern for the Strawberry Plains community.
It could overrule the county's decision in stopping the slaughterhouse.
The bill was introduced by Senator Frank Niceley. His daughter, Anna Niceley Borreiro, is a cattle farmer in Strawberry Plains.
"His daughter stated at the commissioner's meeting that this would benefit her greatly," Earnest said.
Borreiro was one of the only people to stand in favor of the slaughterhouse at the July meeting.
"I've been driving one to two times a week to five different butcher shops that are the closest to me, that I have to book one to two months out just to get an appointment," Borreiro said.
At the meeting, she said the slaughterhouses or butcher shops, she goes to do not have a smell or ugly external appearance.
However, some Strawberry Plains community members feel that the family connection is suspicious.
"It's a lot of conflict of interest, that's really disgusting with what they're trying to pull," Earnest said.
It's not sitting well with county commissioners either. Rob Blevins represents Strawberry Plains. He voted against the slaughterhouse, due to his district's overwhelming opposition.
"Those that have the gold are making the rules and stepping on the people that actually live here and have to deal with it. If this goes through, what's the point of having county or city government at all?" Blevins said.