Village considers ban on farm animals

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

As dawn approached, the sound of something familiar but foreign to the area would pierce the silence within the village of Urbancrest.

At first, some residents believed it to be the fogginess that comes from the sudden awakening of a deep slumber but others were more concerned that it was the start of things to come.

As time went on and the sound continued to reverberate throughout the community, so did the influx of phone calls to the homes of members of the village council’s health and safety committee.

With the complaints piling up, they set out to determine whether there was a rooster living among a small flock of backyard chickens, and if so, was the rooster and the hens allowed to be there.

When the matter was discussed at a council meeting last summer, it was determined that the village had no clear rules that allowed or disallowed residents to raise farm animals or livestock on their property.

In the weeks that followed, there were reports of a pig living in the area and a flood of complaints that it was defecating in areas outside of the residence where it was kept.
With all of this in mind, along with past grievances of the appearance of a goat, it was determined by members of the committee that something had to be done regarding the matter.

Late last year, the committee began compiling information from the state code and researching similar ordinances throughout the country to come up with a solution. One possible solution to the issue was presented to council on July 14 in the form of an ordinance to prohibit the possession of farm animals and livestock within the village.

Under the ordinance, the definition of farm animals include, but are not limited to, pigs, mules, donkeys, miniature horses, camels, emus, ostrich, fox, bison, chickens, turkeys, quail, pheasants, chinchillas, geese and ducks. In regards to livestock, the definition is determined as horses and mules; cattle, sheep, goats, swine, poultry, alpacas, llamas, captive white tail deer, or any other animal that is raised or maintained domestically for food or fiber.

Additionally, the ordinance states that anyone in possession of the prohibited animal would be issued a cease and desist order by the village’s zoning inspector and be required to remove said animal or animals within 30 days. Those who are not in compliance would be issued fines if violations reoccur or if the animal is not removed.

Resident Donna Bogue said her reaction to the ordinance was mixed.

“I agree that residents should not be allowed to raise pigs or cows on their property because of the stench that having those would cause,” she said. “But I do not agree that residents cannot be allowed to raise chickens to provide eggs for their families or even be allowed to have chinchillas as pets. I know a number of families who have chinchillas in this village and they do not pose a safety threat to anyone.”

When asked about the list of animals under consideration for prohibition, committee chair and councilwoman Alicia Wiggins said the inclusion or exclusion will be on a case-by-case basis.

“There will be cases made for a prohibited animal to be an exception,” she wrote in an email. “Modifications can be made. This list is not etched in stone.”

She went on to include that this was the first reading of the ordinance, meaning that it can be altered with council or citizen input before it has its third reading in September.

In other meeting news, Mayor Joseph Barnes Sr., said their engineers have looked into the flooding issue on Augustus Drive; he said their inspection determined the cause was not faulty storm sewers but rather a ditch located near the railroad. He added that the village will relay their findings to the railroad company.

Councilwoman Deborah Larkins-Jackson suggested that council hold its monthly meetings through a virtual platform such as Zoom rather than hold it in-person due to the pandemic.

Barnes said their meetings are in compliance with the state health and safety regulations and he sees no reason to change the setting at this time.

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