Chickens will be killed, and they'll meet their death in Aurora.
Mayor Tom Weisner cast the deciding vote Tuesday granting a conditional use permit for a specialty butcher shop to slaughter and sell poultry at 629 S. River St.
The shop, called Fermin's Poultry, plans to slaughter chickens, ducks and other fowl at the now-vacant site of a former brass foundry, just west of the Fox River and directly across the street from Aurora Animal Control and the Fox Valley Animal Welfare League.
With two aldermen absent, the remaining ten split their votes 5-5, with much of the discussion centering on the store's intent to slaughter animals at an ironic location.
"From a purely philosophical standpoint, it seems inappropriate for a butcher shop to be located across the street from an animal shelter," said Aurora resident Diane Gant, who lives near the site.
The Fox Valley Animal Welfare League worries visitors who are considering adopting an animal may see the slaughtering processes across the street, the organization's President Ellen Wullbrandt said.
"As an animal welfare league, obviously that's a concern," Wullbrandt said. "It's just not very family-friendly."
But Aurora Animal Control also kills animals, euthanizing them when the shelter is overcrowded or a home cannot be found, Alderman Rick Mervine said. And those animals are pets, while the animals to be killed across the street at Fermin's Poultry are not pets, but food, he said.
"There will be animals on both sides of the street put to death for different reasons," Weisner said before casting his vote in favor of allowing the shop to use the site. "I believe we have a discussion about whether we want the chickens we eat to be killed in our own town or killed somewhere else."
Weisner said Fermin's Poultry has followed all regulations and agreed to every condition placed on its permission to use the site -- including two more added Tuesday night. The shop must submit written notice of any report received from or violation recorded by the Kane County Health Department or the Illinois Department of Agriculture to Aurora's property standards division.
Other conditions require the butcher shop to improve the property's fencing, landscaping, parking lots and building facades. Live animal deliveries must be screened from River Street and the city can initiate a public hearing about revocation of the permit "if there is any evidence of repeated violations of any kind," according to the ordinance that grants conditional use.
City approval is just the first step for Fermin's Poultry. The business now must submit a plan review to the Kane County Health Department for approval of its retail butcher shop operations and a similar proposal to the Illinois Department of Agriculture for approval of its slaughtering and food processing procedures.
Weisner and Mervine said the shop's owner, Fermin Benitez of Aurora, knows his operations will be watched carefully.
"He will be under heavy scrutiny," Mervine said. "He knows he can't stumble."