A heaping helping of incendiary innuendo

To the Editor:

This is a letter about rhetoric. And how, in these polarized and divisive times, it is incumbent upon those who speak in positions of some authority to be particularly mindful of their rhetoric. To not be, is questionable in its purpose.

At the time of this writing, in advance of the Feb. 14 Guilderland Planning Board meeting, the proposal for a halal market, which is to incorporate the slaughter of live poultry on the premises, is to reappear with site-plan revisions.

Sean Mulkerrin covered the proceedings of the first presentation before the board in the January 19th edition of the Enterprise [“Halal market looks to open on Western Avenue,” The Altamont Enterprise, Jan. 15, 2024]. 

In the interim, the proposal came before the Albany County Planning Board at its Jan. 22 meeting. Its recommendation was to disapprove the proposal, citing among other things: “The Town Zoning Board of Appeals should consider the land use compatibility of the proposed use of poultry with the adjacent residential properties and the precedent setting nature of allowing such uses.”

I listened to the proceedings of the meeting on Jan. 22. The discussion specific to the “use of poultry” referred to in the recommendation, concerned the butchering of live animals on site of the retail establishment. “Use of poultry” was considered to be a more euphemistic phrasing than the more graphic terminology. Here would be modeling for being mindful of rhetoric.

Full disclosure. I do not eat meat. To my sensibilities, the slaughtering of animals is inhumane regardless of the rituals that guide the process. Humane slaughtering is an oxymoron at best; that is my orthodoxy. 

But that, too, deviates from the issue involved here. The fact of the matter is that nowhere in our zoning code is the enterprise of animal slaughtering a permitted use in any commercial zone. Anywhere. In fact, the only mention of slaughtering in our zoning code is as a condition of the Chicken Permit Agreement, which prohibits the outdoor slaughtering of chickens.

There are no criteria regarding setbacks or proximity that are applicable from our zoning code to a business which engages in live butchering. Again, it is an enterprise that is not listed in any of our commercial classification zones.

When the Albany County Planning Board recommended that land-use compatibility and the precedent-setting nature of allowing this “use of poultry” be considered, that would seem to have been a fair precaution with regard to a specific type of commercial enterprise that, per the zoning code, is not permitted in the town.

Not so to our town planner. In a memo of rebuttal to the county planning board’s disapproval, Mr. [Kenneth] Kovalchik offered a personal “could be interpretation” of the Albany Cpinty Planning Board’s remarks. I will not reprise it here. Suffice it to say, it was a heaping helping of incendiary innuendo.

I have been an attendee at many of our town’s board meetings, either in person or via broadcast, for quite some time. One thing I have personally born witness to in that history is outright dismissiveness, bordering on disdain when the Albany County Planning Board makes cautionary references to precedence in its recommendations to the boards.

The comments have ranged from “they always say that” to pontifications on the overstepping of authority. As an observer, the takeaway from these displays have always brought to mind the plaints of a petulant teenager that filters only that they resent the suggestion of being told what to do.

This latest incarnation of the long-standing friction, however, hits a new low, with rhetoric that is contrived hatemongering and recklessly irresponsible. 

At least that’s how it could be interpreted.  

Iris Broyde


Editor’s note: The town planner’s memo to the planning board says, in part, “The ACPB also commented they had concerns with the ‘precedent setting nature of allowing such uses.’ Halal is an Arabic word that means ‘permissible’ in terms of food, it means food that is permissible according to Islamic law. The animals must be raised, transported and butchered according to strict guidelines. Halal designation for meat is an important concept and belief associated with food for this religious community. Is the ACPB saying the Town of Guilderland should prohibit halal uses in Town? It most certainly could be interpreted this way, with the concern being a statement like this from the ACPB could be viewed by many to be the equivalent to religious discrimination.”

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