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
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.
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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
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.
[By NILA SMITH]