MANSFIELD — Bob Boliantz provided clear answers Wednesday evening to some members of Mansfield City Council who had operational questions about the proposed slaughter house he plans to open.
His answers must have made sense because local lawmakers unanimously granted a conditional use on the land at 1325 N. Main St. that would allow the E.B. Boliantz Co. to buy the 29,000-square foot building on the five-acre parcel and use it to slaughter about 35 animals a day.
Currently, the property is zoned as an industrial district, which allows meat packing, but does not allow slaughtering of animals. Now that the use has been made a part of the ordinance, the city Planning Commission will likely vote to approve it.
“We’ve been in this business. I’m third generation. My grandmother had Wilging’s Market here. We have to be one of the most highly regulated businesses there is, and that’s why nobody does it anymore,” he said.
“You’ve got (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture), you’ve got got (U.S.) Weights and Measures, you’ve got (federal) Packers and Stockyards administration. You’ve got Ohio livestock regulations that you have to meet.
“We went through an audit today for Giant Eagle stores. They’re pretty tough. But we passed. So we have to do things right.
“We’re in the food business and my name’s on the company, so I don’t need bad advertisement,” he said.
Boliantz’s passionate defense of his operation came after 2nd Ward Councilwoman Cheryl Meier said two of her constituents told her they opposed the proposal and 3rd Ward Councilman Rev. El Akuchie said, “We don’t know how much or any studies have been done or any environmental impact or any of that. I would like to know.”
5th Ward Councilman Aurelio Diaz asked how many jobs the expanded E.R. Boliantz operation at 1325 N. Main St. would create.
“Right now, I’m about 50 people. Um, we purchased the Weidle building probably five years ago. We thought that was going to take the pressure off the Ashland plant. Now we’ve outgrown both of them,” Boliantz said.
“We’ve been blessed. If I don’t forget who’s in charge, we’ll be fine. It keeps growing. So we need more square footage, we’re moving product two or three times,” he said.
At-large Councilwoman Stephanie Zader said it’s a great opportunity to add jobs to the local economy.
“I just want to acknowledge that we talk a lot about economic development here in the city and growing jobs and growing businesses. This is an opportunity for us, rather than losing a business to another local municipality, to bring operations here,” she said.
“We need growing businesses here, and this is a growing, thriving business. It is not a glamorous one. I’ve been in and I’ve seen your operation. It’s not something I could do. I admire you for being able to do it. It’s not glamorous, but it’s jobs and we all need to eat,” Zader said.
All of the slaughtering will take place indoors, according to Boliantz, an Ashland County resident, who said the food industry has turned to locally-sourced products.
He said his company is also regulated under the U.S. Humane Methods of Slaughter Act of 1958, which requires humane treatment and handling of food animals at a slaughter plant while also providing a quick and effective death.
Boliantz’s beef, purchased from area farms, can be found in a host of retail stores around Ohio, including the source of 15-store Buehler’s Fresh Foods’ “Proudly Raised in Ohio Certified Angus Beef ® brand” program.
Boliantz told members of the city Planning Commission in September there were once large plants in Ohio that slaughtered 500 to 3,000 animals per week.
“They’re all gone. This has brought more demand on the small plants. There’s few of us left,” he said.
After learning more about the business, Meier said she supported the plan.
“We preach about economic development and bringing businesses in. I definitely don’t feel like we’re in a position to turn businesses away, so thank you very much for answering my questions,” Meier said.
Marc Milliron, the City of Mansfield demolition coordinator, told Planning Commission members there are no nearby residents.
“The nearest neighbor that we looked at is probably around 4,000 feet away. This area that they’re in … it’s an industrial area. There’s not a lot of housing,” Milliron said.
1st Ward Councilwoman Laura Burns said she appreciated Boliantz was keeping his operations local.
“I appreciate the fact that you are providing jobs, you’re providing an outlet for the kids at Pioneer (Career and Technology Center) who are learning the trade. That’s fantastic. And you’re keeping a product in the area,” she said.
“We talk a lot about all the wonderful things that we have to offer here. Let’s feed people some of the wonderful things, too,” Burns said.
In other activity on Wednesday, City Council:
— heard details from Finance Director Linn Steward about the proposed 2024 temporary spending plan that must be approved by Dec. 31.
— approved demolition of 14 deteriorated buildings at 31 Glessner Ave., 164 W. Blanche St. (rear), 166 S. Main St., 215 E. First St., 220 S. Adams St., 243 Park Drive, 308 Central Ave., 409 Wayne St., 411 Tremont Ave., 521 King St., 527 King St., 528 Cherry St., 543 Bowman St. and 589 Garfield Place.
— voted against a proposal to rezone a portion of five land parcel at and around 475 S. Diamond St. from MH (Mobile Home), MF (Multi-Family) and B-1 (business) to B-2 (General Business District). Council asked if the developer would would with the city planning commission to seek conditional use approval to allow a self-storage facility if perhaps all of the parcels are all zoned B-1, rather than the more expansive B-2.
— approved a payment of $1,200 to Ahmed F. Kent for damages caused by a sewer backup at 458 Davey Ave. on Aug. 23.
— approved the transfer of $10,000 with the general fund to allow the permitting and development department to pay landfill tipping fees for the remainder of 2023.
— voted to appropriate $22,428.41 from the unappropriated parks and recreation fund for the repairs of one of the North Lake Park stone entrances on West Fourth Street. The entrance was damaged in June when a car crashed into the sandstone pillar on the west side of the West Fourth Street entrance to the historic park, which opened in 1887 as Sherman-Heineman Park. The city received $22,418.41 in insurance proceeds after the crash, which had happened as the result of a shooting incident inside the car.
—approved the appropriation of $25,000 from the unappropriated parks and recreation fund to provide additional operating funds for the remainder of the year.
–approved spending $101,085 for a new backhoe for the sewer department, using sewer department funds.
— authorized the the public works director to seek bids for custodial services at the Municipal Building, wastewater treatment plant office building, the water treatment plan office building and the utility collection building.
— voted to amend the city’s “street obstructions and special uses” ordinances. Officials said it would upgrade the permitting process for parade assemblies, special events and planned street obstructions.
— voted to amend the list of “municipal bodies” recognized in the city’s codified ordinances. It would remove boards no longer in operation and add boards currently meeting, including the Downtown Improvement Advisory Board, the Historic Preservation Commission, the Public Arts Commission and the Tax Appeals Board.
— approved the purchase a 2024 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 from Fredericktown Chevrolet for $54,300 to be used at Mansfield-Lahm Regional Airport. The truck is used for daily department work at the airport on the city’s north side.