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Franklin’s Slaughterhouse Debacle Avoided -lies turned into tech jobs


The clouds did not begin to appear on the horizon until September of 2020. However, once within sight, the ominous darkness grew quickly, like that sickly gray/green color the sky turns when really severe weather approaches.


Although plotting and back door deals had been going on behind the scenes in Franklin for more than 3 years, it was not until late 2020 that most residents heard of a future development being planned 1.5 miles down the road from the subdivision in which I live. Although a beautiful area of a few remaining farms, wetlands, and subdivisions, the new proposed development was to be a giant slaughterhouse that would kill 500 head of live cattle per day, that would arrive each night between 12am-6am.


Apparently, the final vote to make this disaster a reality was only 6 weeks away. As soon as I confirmed this, I began to organize my neighbors. Naturally, they were uniformly against such a repulsive addition to an area of town that had almost no commercial development, let alone this type of industrial nightmare. Within several weeks, I met 3 other individuals that also had begun to organize segments of our community against this impending disaster- Marcelino Rivera, Kelly Hersh, and Prashant Kothari. Together the 4 of us set out to make sure this grave injustice, this completely unwanted and unwarranted slaughterhouse development, would not happen in such a ludicrous location.


Although roughly 92% of tax-payers in the area adamantly opposed this development (a number painstakingly compiled by canvassing door to door), and hundreds and hundreds of protesters were organized to appear at both the Planning Commission meeting and the Common Council meeting, the development was arbitrarily approved, essentially spitting in the face of the voters who put these politicians in their positions, and whose taxes paid their salaries.


It was clear, the City, who had every conceivable advantage within the system itself, would do whatever it took to make sure that a very small minority of special interests would make significant profits, at the direct expense of local property owners and taxpayers. Our small group of four, and growing followers, formed a not-for-profit corporation, Franklin Community Advocates (FCA,) began fundraising, and hired a local attorney, Joe Cincotta.


We immediately filed a lawsuit against City government to stop the undesirable, unwanted, and what many naysayers would call, inevitable development. Little did we know, that this was merely the beginning of what would eventually become a seemingly endless saga. To cut to the chase, after 2 years and 3 months, and just south of $110,000 spent on legal fees and studies, we were victorious!


No slaughterhouse located within a neighborhood development. When I started with this, I knew the road would be long, but even I underestimated the true time and effort required to fight unscrupulous liars, and a judicial system highly stacked in their favor. I make this statement not to discourage people, but to focus on the opposite. You can fight City Hall (if you unfortunately must.) The problem is that it is very time consuming and very expensive.


Although I feel this must be acknowledged and considered at the outset, I think that all too often people look at this as an insurmountable road block, and decide not to act. People need to decide how important their beliefs and concerns really are. If they are truly relevant, then they are worth the fight and the monetary costs. Having spent roughly 2000 volunteer hours on this project, I cannot begin to tell you the number of times I questioned our endeavor, or wanted to simply give up. But now instead of a slaughterhouse next to $600k homes, Verizon will build a technology center on the land.


To be CLEAR- just as much tax revenue will be created, no property values will be negatively impacted, and white collar jobs that Franklin residents might actually take, will be created (as opposed to horrific meat harvesting jobs only taken by the most disadvantaged and desperate in our metro area.) What has been most frustrating, is that absolutely none of this was necessary. In fact, the original plans for the area called for a call center type building, not unlike what is now finally going in.


With the death of local newspapers, citizens must now find a new way to be aware of and involved with their local governments. Otherwise, you risk a few poorly qualified individuals creating a tsunami of wasted time, money, and tax dollars. You may even end up with a development as moronic as a co-located Slaughterhouse/Upscale Subdivision.


Had this foolish and entirely unnecessary development gone forward, surrounding property values would have been devalued by more than $20 million dollars. That figure was not derived from lies, hearsay or active misinformation, which the very small, pro-slaughterhouse contingent loved to focus on. The figure comes from a third party $22,500 study, FCA was forced to commission and pay for, in order to find out what would be the effects of such an odd development within a residential area.


The concerns were great, since in this day and age, slaughterhouses are generally built in very rural locations, in towns with total populations in the hundreds. For those few homeowners who live around legacy slaughterhouse developments, the average value of their properties is just under $90k. Yet even when confronted with these facts, the City and Strauss Brands provided zero actual information around property value impacts, even though they were asked to do so for several years.


There are a couple of additional things I feel made FCA successful in our endeavor. The first thing that clearly stands out to me, is the incredibly diverse nature of our supporters. FCA actively pursued and received donations from across the spectrum- from what is perceived to be the far left (PETA) to what is thought to be the far right (hardcore Trumpers.) We got support from minority groups, women’s groups, religious groups, environmental groups, animal welfare groups, ethical government groups, vegans, Trumpers, Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians. Obviously organizing such an elaborate coalition takes an enormous amount of time and effort, but it proved key to sustaining our fight.


Another key to our success, was coordinating with other groups that empowered themselves to play a very direct role in supporting our jointly desired outcome. A perfect example of this is our local Jain community. They founded their own not-for-profit corporation, which they aptly titled, “Love, Care, Compassion” (LCC.) Through their many hours of effort, they were able to raise funds and sustain FCA during periods when our funding was running short.


Without all of our combined resources, we never could have continued our challenge until we won. In speaking with a local reporter, I mentioned, tongue in cheek, that we may have hit upon the key of how to bring our nation back together- threaten all neighborhoods with giant slaughterhouse developments. When someone threatens your peace and quiet, as well as the literal value of your home, it is amazing how well people can work together and get along.


That brings me to FCA’s next chapter. As of Jan 1, 2023, FCA has given up their 501c3 designation. We have done so in order to be able to actively, campaign for change. It has become abundantly clear, through this entire slaughterhouse debacle, that in order for Franklin to continue to thrive as the desirable community that it is, the current autocracy that serves as local government must be voted out of office, and replaced. We do not intend to support any political party, but we will support and endorse any candidate who puts honesty, integrity, and their constituents above their own selfish desires. More to come...


Dave Sorensen

Executive Director,

Franklin Community Advocates (FCA)

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