The Marston farmers who late last year denied operating a slaughterhouse will this week appear in front of the County Board of Zoning Appeals for permission to operate a slaughterhouse.

Carroll Lynn Schisler, 44, and his brother August "Fred" Schisler, 38, are expected torequest a zoning variance Thursday afternoon to operate a commercialslaughterhouse on their 112-acre farm on Marston Road.

County zoning laws allow farmers to operate slaughterhouses for their own use but require zoning approval for commercial slaughterhouses.

"In Carroll County, farmers are allowed to cut and prepare their own meat," said Margaret Mead, an attorney with the Baltimore firmof Walker VanBavel & Brown. "All they want to do is provide a place where their customers can prepare their own meat after buying livestock."

Customers have been doing so since 1958, Mead said.

The Schislers, who were found innocent of animal cruelty charges in CarrollDistrict Court in a much-publicized trial last December, buy sick livestock and nurse the animals back to health before reselling them.

Their farm, raided in April 1990, was the target of a videotaped investigation by Humane Society officials and the Carroll County Sheriff's Department. The videotape revealed that piles of rotting animal carcasses and more than 250 diseased and malnourished animals dotted the farm.

At the time, then-District Judge Francis M. Arnold said the videotape and other evidence at the trial "was probably the best argument for becoming a vegetarian that I've heard in a long time." But he ruled that prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubtthat the brothers were cruel to animals.

Mead says that the Schislers are not going into the slaughtering business. They had been slaughtering and preparing livestock for themselves and their customers for years; they have stopped allowing people who buy their livestock to use their slaughtering facilities since last year's investigation.

Zoning regulations, however, require the Schislers to seek approval for a commercial slaughterhouse.

"It's not going to be anything like Hormel or on a large scale," Mead said. "These are very rural people, very basic, very country. They are God-fearing, and they just want to use their land in the way that they think they should be allowed to."

The Board of Zoning Appeals will have a month to make a decision. If they give the brothers a zoning variance, they could resume allowing their customers to butcher and prepare their own meats.

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