Opposition mounts to rezoning on Walden
Proposed slaughterhouse resisted by city neighbors
Opposition is mounting to a proposal to put a poultry slaughterhouse on the site of a former Dairy Queen on Walden Avenue in a Buffalo residential neighborhood.
Masaab Darwish wants to open a streetfront restaurant and a slaughterhouse, mainly for fresh chicken and turkeys, at 822 Walden, near Academy Road. He is asking the Buffalo Zoning Board of Appeals for a use variance to allow him to convert a block building in the rear of the site into the slaughterhouse.
Darwish said that it would be one of the few slaughterhouses in the area and perhaps the only one in the city. It would operate under halal, the Muslim dietary laws that also guide how animals must be killed in order for the meat to be eaten.
Darwish, of Cheektowaga, stated in his application to the city that he has spoken to neighbors and gained support for the venture.
But neighbors interviewed Thursday expressed resistance to the idea.
“I think it’s a horrible idea; everybody does,” said Julia Ruffin, who lives on St. Marys Road, which runs parallel to Academy. “There are no slaughterhouses in Buffalo. We are a neighborhood, and we don’t want that in our neighborhood. I don’t think anybody would.”
The Academy Road Block Club, which represents residents on Academy and St. Marys, has circulated a petition against the business. Residents met Wednesday night to discuss the matter at the George K. Arthur Community Center, 2056 Genesee St. According to those present, an overflow crowd attended.
Darwish wants to put a restaurant into the building on the parcel closest to Walden, which once was home to a Dairy Queen, said Ulysses Williams, 57, who lives on Academy, directly behind the parcel.
“A slaughterhouse is not needed here,” said Williams, whose family has lived in the neighborhood since 2002.
He said other businesses – including a MetroPCS, a Dairy Queen and an electronics repair shop – had all moved out of the site.
“The last one here was an auto repair shop, and it lasted two months before it was gone,” Williams said.
The neighborhood, located a few blocks from the Cheektowaga border, has seen better times, said most of the neighbors interviewed for this article. Many of the houses on Academy and St. Marys have barred windows and doors. “Beware of Dog” signs are common. A street sign near the beginning of Academy describes the street as part of a neighborhood watch program implemented by the block club.
“It was great neighborhood at one time, but now you have a lot of people
job and resented Levin’s return. Channel 2 has to hope that Benigni’s move to “Daybreak” will ease the resentment.
Benigni becomes the second sports director on Buffalo television to move to news in the past few years. WKBW’s (Channel 7) Jeff Russo left sports for news in January 2015.
“Adam did a great job filling both evenings and mornings,” said Toellner. “It was obvious his transition to news was going to be a smooth one. It was also obvious that his emphatic personality and quick wit would be perfect for mornings and ‘Daybreak.’ ”
In a brief telephone interview, Benigni, 48, said he decided this summer to make the move to news.
“I really wanted the challenge of dealing with topics outside of sports, especially in a community where I have lived for 20 years and have grown to love,” said Benigni.
He added he talked to other former sportscasters who have made the switch to news about a variety of topics, including the early morning hours he will be working.
“It is going to be an adjustment,” Benigni conceded. “My entire career up to now has been on the night shift.”
According to a source, Benigni explored other options before deciding to take the “Daybreak” job.
Benigni seemed the logical choice to replace Beard, who has delayed his departure from Channel 2 a few times before announcing it definitely would be the end of the line at the end of 2017.
Benigni’s move to “Daybreak” would seem to be a blow to Pete Gallivan, who had been the morning show co-anchor for about 11 years before Beard came aboard in 2009.
Gallivan is expected to become the primary fill-in anchor for Levin and Benigni, who get a good deal of vacation time. He also could move to sports now that there is an opening there with Benigni officially exiting his former role.
Jonah Javad, who has been at Channel 2 for five years, is the logical choice to be named Channel 2’s sports director. He has taken over many of Benigni’s duties for the past several months. But no announcement has been made.
Javad also is ambitious and may not be as wedded to Western New York as other TV personalities and could eventually leave for a bigger market.
WGRZ-TV sports reporter Jonah Javad, who has been with the station for five years, seems to be the logical choice for sports director.