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July 27, 2022 - 8:05am

Got farm animals in the city? A mandatory registry may be for you

posted by Joanne Beck in news, farm animals, batavia, notify.

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At a time when there’s a big focus on equal rights, even animals — from dogs and chickens to goats, horses, and even therapy animals — and their owners have to be considered.

That was one conclusion during Tuesday’s city Planning and Development Committee meeting.

After discussing and debating issues of what constitutes a nuisance, how to enforce restrictions, and which animal species should or should not be allowed in the city, the group covered a gamut of options and repercussions.

Animals prevailed, for the most part. In the end, the group agreed to put forth a recommendation to use City Manager Rachael Tabelski’s drafted resolution, plus a few alterations. That will go to City Council for review and eventual vote. There will be a public hearing set before a final decision is made, Committee Chairman Duane Preston said.

“We only make some recommendations to the City Council. At that point the public hearing will be open for anybody that would like to come and voice their concerns,” Preston said. “So they need to set a public hearing. Those who have animals that would like to attend can come and voice their opinions to City Council.”

turner_and_kid_goats.jpgJill Turner and her Burke Drive neighbor Teresa Potrzebowski each believe they have a valid argument for one side of the matter or the other. They disagree on whether Turner’s goats should remain on her property.

Turner told The Batavian previously that when she moved into the westside neighborhood, there was no law pertaining to her four goats. Her daughters spend time with the goats, one is in 4-H and the other girl uses the animal for therapeutic purposes, Turner said. Furthermore, she doesn’t believe they are destructive or threatening to her neighbors as some have claimed.

That’s not Potrzebowski’s experience, she said before Tuesday’s meeting. When she moved in, there were no goats, and “I wouldn’t have moved in if there had been,” she said. There’s noise, bad smells and goats constantly getting out of their small shed, she said. Turner also has chickens and ducks, and all three farm animal types come into her yard.

“I came home bringing groceries and two big ones walked into my garage,” she said.

The goats have eaten neighbors’ flowers and relieved themselves on their properties, she said.

“It smells like you’re living next door to a farm,” she said.

City Councilman John Canale raised the issue during a recent council meeting, based on resident complaints of those goats. He attended the Planning and Development meeting, but would not comment because he will have to vote on a resolution in the future and lives in the neighborhood, he said.

Committee member Matt Gray did his own research on “a number of towns and cities in the same boat,” and found that a lot of those municipalities came to a decision to restrict animals.

“I found a lot of them leaning the same way we are,” he said.

About 17 out of 25 cities had restrictions, particularly on roosters, Gray said. He suggested adding them to a list of animals not allowed in the city. That brought up other issues about if animals are allowed, how many should be allowed? What measures would be put in place to ensure proper enforcement when the restrictions are violated?

david_beatty.jpg“The city would be responsible for quite a bit in terms of enforcement,” member David Beatty said. “I think whatever we recommend, enforcement is the biggest thing. How do you enforce it? How do you get cooperation of people who own animals? How problematic would that be?”

At one point he offered the suggestion to not allow any animals in the city.

“There’d be an uprising,” Beatty said.

Code Enforcement Officer Doug Randall explained that a law cannot just pertain to one segment of the population. It has to cover everyone, he said. Right now, however, a dog owner can receive repeated tickets for its continuously barking dog if the issue hasn’t been resolved.

For a goat?

“No tickets. We don’t have a law for it,” Randall said.

About an hour later, the committee agreed to forward a resolution with the additions of limiting chickens to six, banning roosters from being kept in the city, and requiring city residents to register their animals by a certain date, to be determined by council if it adopts the recommendation, or not be allowed to keep the animal on their city properties. Registering the animals will allow folks that already have chickens, goats and the like to keep them, and should make it easier to track who has what and where, Randall said.

The resolution "restricts people from owning, bringing into, possessing, keeping, harboring or feeding farm animals, cloven-hoofed animals, equine or fowl, including but not limited to cattle, horses, sheep, goats, pigs, swine, lamas, alpaca, ducks, turkey, geese, feral cats, ponies, donkeys, mules or any other farm or wild animal within city limits."

Exceptions include:

  • Chickens, as long as they are penned appropriately, do not accumulate feces or cause odor or an unsightly or unsafe condition. The addition, if approved, would limit them to six.
  • Harborage, including transport to and from race tracks and all associated grounds.
  • Special events with the approval of an event application.
  • Animals in transit through the city.
  • Transport to and from veterinary hospitals/clinics, including short-term boarding for medical procedures/conditions.
  • No person shall permit an accumulation of animal and/or fowl feces on any property resulting in a foul odor or unsightly condition that makes travel or residence in the vicinity uncomfortable, or which attracts flies or other insects of animals, thereby creating an unsanitary condition and may facilitate the spread of disease of which endangers the public comfort and repose.

The registration requirement would be for people already with farm animals on their properties. If they don’t register an animal by the deadline, it would have to go.

Potrzebowski doesn’t want to have issues with any neighbor, she said, but the recommendation didn’t fill her wish not to have to deal with the animals at all.

“It defeats the purpose to have to register them,” she said.

Top photo: City Planning & Development Committee members Matt Gray, left, David Beatty and Chairman Duane Preston discuss the possibilities Tuesday evening for what to do with farm animals kept in the city. File photo of Jill Turner, pictured with one of her daughters in front, is a city resident with goats, and some of her neighbors have complained that they don't want the smell and noise created by goats, chickens and other farm animals. Committee member David Beatty makes his case for restricting, or maybe even banning, farm animals from city properties. Photos by Joanne Beck.

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