March 19, 2013

Gardiner livestock rules get first public hearing Wednesday

By Paul Koenig
Staff Writer

GARDINER -- One of the more contentious city issues in recent years -- whether to allow goats and sheep in residential neighborhoods -- will have its first public hearing Wednesday.

click image to enlarge

Marciana Johnson is raising goats with her family in the back yard of their Gardiner home. Gardiner's City Council holds a public hearing on rules regarding the raising of small livestock intown on Wednesday.

Staff file photo by Andy Molloy

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City officials expect a large turnout from the public both for and against the ordinance at the 7 p.m. City Council meeting at City Hall.

Councilors supported pursuing the ordinance at their last meeting, and the city staff has worked with a consultant to finalize the proposal.

The proposed ordinance would allow residents in all residential zones to raise two goats or sheep weighing 100 pounds or less.

Each animal would require 4,000 square feet of enclosed area, with setbacks of 30 feet from property lines and 50 feet from neighboring homes.

The Ordinance Review Committee passed a draft of the ordinance on to the Planning Board in January after more than four months of work.

The Planning Board didn't make a recommendation on the proposal before the council saw it two weeks ago.

The issue came to the city's attention last summer when neighbors complained about a family raising two pygmy goats on Plaisted Street, which city ordinances don't allow.

Chandler and Marcina Johnston got the goats last July after speaking with city officials and thinking it was allowed, Marcina Johnston said.

City Manager Scott Morelli has said the city will wait until the council can review the proposal before enforcing the current ordinance.

"Obviously this is not about us," Marcina Johnston said. "But after doing this for a year, we're showing that this does work; and a lot of concerns we've had with community, I hope we've alleviated."

Paul Koenig -- 621-5663

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