January 8, 2013

Gardiner committee sends proposed small livestock rules to Planning Board

Rules would govern keeping of goats, sheep on intown lots; Planning Board unlikely to consider proposal until February or March

By Paul Koenig pkoenig@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

GARDINER -- An ordinance change that would allow small goats and sheep in residential areas -- possibly the first in the state -- took another step forward Monday, but any ratification won't come until spring at the earliest.

click image to enlarge

Marcina Johnson is raising pygmy goats in the back yard of their Gardiner home. The Ordinance Review Committee has sent to the Planning Board proposed rules that would allow goats and sheep to be kept on intown lots.

Staff file photo by Andy Molloy

Elements of Draft Ordinance


• Allowing two goats or sheep weighing 100 pounds or less to be raised within most zones, including high-density residential.
• Females or neutered males only.
• Owner-occupied single- or two-family residences.
• Enclosed area must be 30 feet from any property line and 50 feet from any neighbors’ residential dwellings and have 4,000 square feet for each animal.
• Structure housing animals must have at least 15 square feet per adult animal.
• Personal use only.

The Ordinance Review Committee passed the recommended ordinance change for the Planning Board to review at either its February or March meeting.

Once the board recommends any changes to the City Council, the council will hold two public readings of the ordinance draft before a final vote.

The committee has been crafting the ordinance since October and allowed public input at the beginning of the process.

Members of the Ordinance Review Committee said they spent so much time outlining details and restrictions of the proposal because it appears to be the first of its kind in Maine, with most municipalities requiring at least 1 or 2 acres for livestock.

The issue arose when a couple on Plaisted Street got two pygmy goats in June, which is against city ordinances because they live in a high-density residential zone. The couple petitioned the city to change the ordinance to allow for them to raise the goats.

Some neighbors attending the committee's meetings have complained about the smell and appearance of the animals, expressing concerns about the effect on property values.

Chandler and Marcina Johnston, who raise the goats for milk, say other neighbors have been supportive.

The city won't enforce the current ordinance until City Council can review the issue, City Manager Scott Morelli said. That review won't come until at least March or April.

Chandler Johnston said the length of the process has given city residents and councilors a living, breathing example of what allowing domesticated livestock will look like. By the time the council votes, the Johnstons probably will have had the goats for nearly a year.

"To some degree, this dragging out has given them more information," he said.

Morelli said the councilor wanted the committee to do the legwork for developing the proposed ordinance because councilors knew it would be a hot-button issue.

"They wanted to have that level of scrutiny before they decided to do this," he said.

Paul Koenig -- 621-5663


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