BLACK EARTH (WKOW) -- A local meat processing facility is closing its doors after a battle with the village of Black Earth over its slaughterhouse.
Black Earth Meats Co-owner Bartlett Durand released a statement Tuesday the business has conducted its last slaughter and will be closing as soon as all its product is sold.
After a few neighbors complained about the slaughterhouse being too close to their homes and growing too large for its space in the residential neighborhood, the village of Black Earth asked the business to move its slaughterhouse to a new location or move out.
27 News got in touch with one of those neighbors, who declined to comment Tuesday. Others who live nearby say they don't understand why Black Earth Meats should go.
"I think it's a shame that we have another business that's going to be leaving Black Earth and I think it's been very profitable and brings a lot of people to the community," says Christi Herrling, who has lived across the street from the company for 16 years.
Durand told 27 News earlier this year it was not an option to split the retail butchershop from the processing facility. In his Tuesday statement, Durand said the village pursued legal action, which caused Black Earth Meats' bank to end its loan with the company, essentially closing the business.
Now, Black Earth Meats is suing the village for damages. The Wisconsin State Journal reports they're asking for $5.3 million for abusing due process and targeting the business.
"This is a tragedy," Durand said in a Facebook post to Black Earth Meats' followers Tuesday. "I am devastated that seven years of work building up a local meats infrastructure is destroyed with this unthinkable act by the village board."
Black Earth Meats' retail store in Madison, Conscious Carnivore, will remain open. The store sells meat processed in Black Earth and will have to find a new processor for the more than 100 farmers who work with the company.
"Most of the farmers that we work with are very small scale and so we have gotten to know them all quite personally," says Rhonda Goehl Slinde, Conscious Carnivore store manager.
Conscious Carnivore workers say there are few facilities in the U.S. that process meat in the same way, animal welfare-approved, as Black Earth Meats.
"Unfortunately, what it comes down to is those animals could end up in a feed lot," says butcher Dave Gathy.
Durand declined an interview Tuesday, saying he was too devastated. 27 News reached out to a number of Black Earth board members Tuesday who did not return our calls for comment.
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