There is inevitably friction when an industrial land use is hard against a residential neighborhood. That’s the reality on the north side of Forest Park where Farmington Foods, a long-time meat processing plant, is seeking to grow within its existing footprint. And neighbors, long frustrated by issues of late night noise, lights and odors, are pushing back in a moment when the village holds approvals that Farmington badly wants.
We were glad to see this simmering tension boil over in public view at last week’s village board meeting. It is past time for all this to be on the table, to be sorted out, for a middle ground to be negotiated and then enforced.
It was odd to listen to Al La Valle, Farmington’s CFO and COO, express surprise that the neighbors were not all fans. He seems to have taken the lack of a cascade of formal complaints and fines from the village as evidence that all was well. And Steve Glinke, the village’s code enforcement chief, said he’d be happy to start issuing fines but had preferred to try to use more diplomatic methods.
Clearly, when all this unspools at the board table with a batch of angry neighbors adding their voices, it is clear that what we have here is a failure to communicate.
We don’t expect, or want, Farmington Foods to go anywhere. Forest Park is historically a mix of manufacturing and residential. We believe the village needs to help Farmington Foods grow as it explains in its bid to modestly expand its facility. But Farmington needs to take this hard shot at its practices as serious worry.
Co-existing is the necessary reality. Homeowners and renters chose a neighborhood next door to a meat processing plant. That plant didn’t locate on Industrial Drive; it chose a neighborhood filled with people entitled to a night’s sleep.
Note: This article was edited on April 22 to reflect Al La Valle’s correct titles of CFO and COO rather than CEO, as the article originally referred to him.