GARDINER — Few members of the public showed up at a meeting Tuesday night where the Planning Board approved a slaughterhouse for Libby Hill Business Park.

The board approved the slaughterhouse with several conditions related to erosion and storm water control plans and buffers, but the applicant, who opened a meat processing plant last year about three miles away on Brunswick Avenue, said he already knew the additional information was needed.

“The only surprise I had is we didn’t get a little more input from the community,” Northeast Meats owner Bill Lovely said Wednesday by phone. “I figured there was going to be a little bit of a struggle.”

Lovely, who also owns ABJ General Contractor and the meat processing plant with his wife, Anette, said he was waiting to see whether the city and community wanted a slaughterhouse in the business park. Executives of two other businesses at the park and two residents asked questions at the meeting about the proposal.

“Now that we have the blessing from the Planning Board, we’ll move full speed,” Lovely said.

The two business executives who spoke at the meeting — Peter Prescott, CEO of Everett J. Prescott Inc. and son of the founder, and Nick Alberding, CEO and co-owner of Pine State Trading Co. — attended the meeting to ensure their investments at the park won’t be harmed by future development. The executives said they weren’t against the slaughterhouse, but they expected more information about the plan at the meeting.

Both companies were instrumental in getting the park off the ground by buying about a third of the original 140 acres from the city in 1999 before the park was constructed.

After expanding the business park in 2006, taking on around $5.7 million more in debt, the city found much less success selling lots. Two lots sold to Chelsea-based Riverside Disposal in July and the lots bought by Northeast Meats were the first lot sales since 2011. Nearly half of the 28 total lots remain vacant and unsold.

Prescott said at the meeting that he thinks nearly all of the business park’s struggles can be attributed to the economy, but he thinks that’s changing and that the park’s fortunes will improve if the businesses and the city work together and maintain the park.

He told the board he didn’t know enough about the slaughterhouse to be against what was being proposed.

“We sure want to promote business, but we also want to make sure what we developed and what we already have in place is not going to be downgraded in some way,” Prescott said.

Prescott and Alberding couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

The Planning Board unanimously approved the plan with the conditions that Lovely installs the required buffering and fence screening, submits written erosion control and written storm water control plans, shows the catch basins and underground piping on the site plan and is issued all required permits.

The plan is to build connected U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected poultry and red meat slaughterhouses at the business park. Northeast Meats will use the red meat side, and the poultry slaughter and processing plant will be leased by two established poultry companies, Maine-ly Poultry in Warren and Common Wealth Poultry Co. in Whitefield.

Once built, it will be the only USDA-inspected poultry slaughterhouse in Maine.

Lovely originally hoped to open the poultry side by Sept. 15, but he said the new target is for the end of September. The red meat facility, which will slaughter cattle, lambs and pigs for Northeast Meats, likely won’t open until November or December.

The only state-inspected poultry facility, Weston’s Meat Cutting and Poultry, is in neighboring West Gardiner, but there are around a dozen poultry farms with on-site processing facilities approved through the state for limited numbers of birds, according to Henrietta Beaufait, manager of the state’s Maine Red Meat and Poultry Inspection Program. USDA-inspected slaughterhouses allow producers to sell the meat across state lines.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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