The first order of business for the evening was to induct the
newest member of the commission, Tracy Welch. Mayor Keith Snyder
administered the oath of office to Welch, who was then able to
participate and vote on the topics at hand.
Commissioners present for the meeting were Bruce Huskins, Robert
Coombs, David Klug, Leo Logan, Cliff Marble, Vic Martinek, Snyder
On the agenda was a request from Kaitlyn Heffren of Lincoln, to be
allowed to keep her pet pygmy goats in the fenced-in backyard of her
The goats belong to Heffrenís fiancť, Kenny Skirven. He has owned
and housed the goats in his back yard for three years. In April of
this year, a concern issued by a neighbor to the cityís building and
safety office brought the situation to the attention of officer John
Lebegue notified Skirven and Heffren that keeping the goats in city
limits was a violation of city code prohibiting livestock in city
limits. The couple removed the goats, taking them to a friend who
lives outside of town, where they have remained since the notice.
Heffren filed the request to be allowed to keep the goats, stating
that they are not livestock per se but rather, they are family pets.
The request was scheduled to be heard in May, but a lack of quorum
postponed the decision to June.
The discussion began with Lebegue saying he had conducted a survey
of 12 area communities, looking at their city codes in regard to
goats specifically. He said the city of Galesburg allows goats, but
they require two acres of grazing and to be located no less than 100
feet from any adjoining property.
The city of Washington allows goats inside city limits, but the
property has to be zoned as agricultural.
Of the 12 codes he surveyed, the only other city to allow goats is
Heffren then spoke at length about the care of the goats, their
health and well-being, demeanor, and the lack of concern by
neighbors about the goats.
She said the goats have a large fenced area to play in, a play
structure, and a shelter all in the back yard. The family keeps the
pens clean, and have not heard any of the neighbors complain about
She said when they got the goats three years ago, they did contact
the city of Lincoln through the police department. The officer they
talked to said there were no codes in the city pertaining to goats,
so as long as they were taken care of and didnít cause a problem it
was all right for them to be in the back yard.
She said since then there was one time when the police were called
regarding the goats. It involved the fact that Skirven and Heffren
took the goats out of the pen and ďwalkedĒ them in the community.
She said the officer informed them that as long as they walked the
goats on leashes, it was all right.
She also shared that one of their neighbors enjoyed having the goats
in the community. He had written a letter of support that she wanted
to share with the commission. The letter did state that the writer
enjoyed the goats, liked watching them play in the backyard, and
that he had no problem with having the goats in his neighborhood.
Heffren said all the neighbors know they have the goats. She said
some bring their kids over to see the goats and watch them play.
Skirven addressed the commission saying he fully understood that
there needed to be rules. He said it made sense that the city would
not want someone raising five to 10 full sized goats in city limits.
However, he said his situation is different. He has two small goats
He said the goats are better behaved, quieter, and cleaner than the
dogs he owns. In addition, the goats were good for his young
daughter. She is responsible for helping to care for them, and her
primary duty is to see to it they are fed. He said this was helping
teach her to care for animals and to be responsible.
The couple mentioned the current city code refers to livestock, but
not everyone would consider a pygmy goat livestock. Skirven said
many people own pygmies as pets, and as pets they become part of the
family, like a dog or cat.
The couple mentioned again that they did try to get proper clearance
for the goats when they got them. They noted that perhaps they went
through the wrong channels, but were hopeful they would not be
penalized for that now, three years after the fact.
Heffren said she understood that the city might be concerned that if
goats are allowed, the town will be overrun with them, but she
didnít believe that would happen.
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During discussion, Huskins asked if the goats carried any
diseases that required vaccination. Heffren said she had
discussed this with the veterinarians at Green Haven Veterinary
Services in San Jose. She had been told there was not a
vaccination program for pygmies. She had also learned that there
are illnesses that the family needs to watch for, and had
discussed with the veterinarians warning signs of sickness and
Huskins asked if the couple is allowing the goats to breed.
Skirven said the male goat has been withered, so there is no
possibility of breeding.
Martinek wondered about the noise.
Skirven said the female has a high pitched voice, but is not nearly
as loud as his dogs. The male, he said has a very soft voice, almost
like heís muted. In addition, he said the goats donít talk much.
They make noise when they see their food coming out, but the rest of
the time they are pretty quiet.
Welch asked about the damage done to the lawn of the home, which is
a rental property. Skirven said the back lawn is divided into two
fenced sections so the goats can be moved from one to the other. He
also noted that the back lawn has several trees, and too much shade
for grass to grow well there anyway.
He went on to say the goats have hay and leaves in the lots as
bedding. Welch confirmed, then the area is not muddy. Skirven said
when it rains it can be, but most of the time, no, it is not muddy.
Welch wondered about body waste. Heffren said pygmy goat waste is
very similar to rabbit waste, as it is a small pellet, not nearly as
massive as waste left behind by dogs.
Huskins asked Lebegue if he knew of any pot belly pigs or chickens
in Lincoln. Lebegue said he had no knowledge of pigs. He said there
were chickens, but they are now gone.
Huskins asked Skirven if the goats draw flies. Skirven said he
didnít see that they did. They do draw birds he said because they
fly in and steal the goat food.
Richard Sinks was a guest in the gallery. He stood and commented
that he didnít see from what he had heard here that the goats would
be any more annoying than barking dogs. He commented that the city
allows all kinds of dogs including Pit Bulls that have been proven
to be dangerous.
City treasurer Chuck Conzo was also in attendance as a guest. He
said the couple lives in his ward, and though he personally doesnít
live close to them, he still canít see having pet goats as a
Logan recalled a few years back that there was a resident in
Lincoln, who had about a dozen goats. He knew firsthand the goats
were not a problem then. They didnít smell, and they did keep the
grass mowed down. Logan commented that he is opposed to livestock in
Lincoln, but a 30 pound Pigmy goat is no worse than a 40 pound dog.
He said if the city was going to set limits, maybe they should
consider limiting the size of dog allowed in the city.
Marble summed up the situation saying it appeared that Heffren and
Skirven were taking good care of their goats, and it appeared they
were not causing a problem for the neighborhood. But, he said the
issue becomes will the next person to decide to raise goats in
Lincoln do this well?
Huskins reinforced this asking if they city did allow the pygmies,
who would police that to make sure all the animals are properly
Marble added that it would take only one bite and one case of rabies
for this to become a huge problem for the city.
Martinek asked if the commission could issue a special use
recommendation for Skirven and Heffren. Lebegue said not in this
case. He said it would have to be a blanket policy that would open
the door to everyone.
In the end, a motion was made to recommend to the Lincoln City
Council that the request to allow pygmy goats as pets inside city
limits be denied. That motion carried by a unanimous vote.
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