Monday, June 30, 2014
sponsored by

City council will not vote on goats

Send a link to a friend  Share

[June 30, 2014]  LINCOLN - Tuesday night the Lincoln City Council held a marathon meeting. They began with an adjourned voting session that lasted nearly one hour. Moving into the workshop session, they covered a large number of topics and spent nearly more than 90 minutes discussing what to place on the next voting agenda. After the workshop, they went into executive session, and finally called it a night after a long and laborious three hours.

Among the many topics discussed was the Lincon Planning Commission’s recommendation to deny a request to allow pygmy goats to be kept as pets within city limits.

The planning commission had met on June 19 and heard a petition from Kaitlyn Heffren and Kenny Skirven, who own two pygmy (dwarf) goats. The goats are kept in the backyard of their home in Lincoln.

Heffren and Skirven gave complete details about how the animals are cared for, and how they have heard from their neighbors that the goats are not a bother to the community.

After much discussion, the commissioners concluded that while they feel Heffren and Skirven do take good care of their goats, because it would be opening the door for anyone in town to acquire pygmy goats, they felt they had to deny the request.

Tuesday evening at the council meeting, Skirven came with his young daughter. The meeting was running very long and his topic hadn’t come up. So, he left before getting a chance to speak to the council.

Building and Safety officer John Lebegue gave the council a summary of the decision made at the Planning Commission, offering their recommendation to deny the request.

During the discussion, Jonie Tibbs mentioned that she has read where there are animals in the city such as snakes and monkeys. She said it was her understanding that the neighbors around the family don’t seem to mind the goats. She added she’d heard that some of the neighborhood dogs are a bigger bother than the goats. She also commented that the goats had been on the property for three years.

Lebegue commented on Tibbs’ last statement, saying the family had said they have had them for three years, but he didn’t know if that was the case. He said he couldn’t imagine that someone would not have called before now if that were the case.

In addition Lebegue said that he had heard from a neighbor who said the goats were a bother, and that her children didn’t like the smell of them. Furthermore, he said a recent television news-bit had included a neighbor not objecting to the goats. Lebegue said the news-bit had been cut and edited to look like that neighbor approved of the goats, when he did not.

Michelle Bauer asked about potbellied pigs in the city, saying that they were a trendy pet. Lebegue said he knew from firsthand experience through his sister that potbellied pigs become a problem for pet owners as they grow. He noted his sister’s pig got very large and obnoxious. He took the opportunity to tell the council that the Planning Commission is looking at revising city ordinances to address exotic pets.

[to top of second column]

Melody Anderson said as a pet owner herself, she sympathized with the family. She said that while Heffren and Skirven may take good care of their animals, her concern would be with those in the future who might acquire animals and not take care of them. She commented, “There is always somebody who ruins it for those who do take care, and my fear, what it opens up.”

Marty Neitzel asked how this related to the exception made for horses. Lebegue said the commission had created very specific regulations on the horses, and this denial would have no effect on that allowance.

Tom O’Donohue said he had personal experience with pet goats because his mother had owned one. He said the animal had not been a bother, and as far was waste was concerned, the goat was easier to clean up after than a dog. O’Donohue said he did get it, that a pygmy goat could be considered a pet.

City treasurer Chuck Conzo spoke up saying he had seen the goats, and they were no larger than his Pomeranian dog. He said he thought it was good that children be taught responsibility through the care of animals. He also suggested the council might want to give Heffren and Skirven an opportunity to come back to the council, seeing as how they had to leave before their topic came up.

Tibbs agreed. She wondered if this should be held over to a later date, and commented, “Right now I think everyone would vote in favor of the little goat.”

Bauer countered that the council should consider the recommendation of the Planning Commission. She noted, “The planning commission voted no. I think we have to stand behind that; only because, we can’t vote based on this particular family. Unfortunately, and because this opens a can, it opens an opportunity. But more importantly the Planning Commission already voted, ‘No,’ unanimously.”

O’Donohue then asked, “If the Planning Commission already said no, why is the council discussing it?”

With that comment, the topic closed and shifted on to other items on the agenda.

According to Lebegue, after consulting with city attorney Blinn Bates, when the commission votes to deny a petition, the city council is not required to vote on the issue unless they wish to veto the commission.


< Top Stories index

Back to top