Miniature and pygmy goats may no longer be welcome in most parts of the city as Flagstaff City Council looks to revise the city’s animal keeping code three years after restrictions were relaxed.
The council is also looking at more closely regulating backyard chickens, including requiring a permit to raise poultry.
In 2016, the city council made it easier to allow residents to raise certain kinds of livestock in their backyards, including allowing small goats that may be raised primarily for milk, said City Sustainability Specialist Dylan Lenzen.
But during the city council meeting on Tuesday, councilmembers moved to disallow residents from raising those animals after receiving a number of complaints regarding backyard goats.
It is not yet clear exactly how significant a problem goats are or how many complaints the city has received about them. But at a council meeting in September, one resident of the Lower Greenlaw neighborhood told the council that his family can essentially no longer use their backyard because of the odor created by the goats raised by his neighbor a few doors down.
The resident said it has gotten to the point where his family decided against growing a garden this year because they can’t stand to be in their backyard.
The change would restrict raising pygmy goats to areas where other larger livestock -- such as cattle, pigs, sheep or llamas -- are allowed in the city: in rural residential and estate residential zones and on lots 40,000 square feet in size or more.
Compared to other livestock animals allowed in Flagstaff, Lenzen said it's possible most residents who own goats treat them more like pets then livestock.
Should the measure pass on Nov. 19, the owners of small goats within the city would have six months to humanely relocate the animals and Lenzen said the city would work with residents to help them do so.
More changes may be coming for chicken owners, though should the changes pass, raising poultry will still be allowed.
The changes could restrict the placement of chicken coops on an owner’s property, however. Coops would be required to be at least 20 feet from any building on a neighboring property and have 10-foot setbacks from the owner’s property line unless the property bordered an alleyway or empty land.
Feeding and watering troughs would also have to be kept at least 20 feet from any neighboring building.
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“This was added just because animals tend to defecate near their feed and water, so it’s keeping the odor away from people’s property line,” Lenzen said. “And then, the city would also require that odors are not detectable outside the property line. [This] would give an incentive for the property owner to make sure they regularly pick up after their animals.”
There are already requirements in place that chickens must be contained, either through enclosed pens or by clipping a chicken’s wings.
The changes would also create a permitting system before residents would be allowed to raise all backyard livestock.
That permit would include a short questionnaire on how to properly raise the livestock in question and a simple site plan for where an animal shelter or pen would be built.
Lastly, the permit would also require a site inspection by a member of city staff.
If the city was to recover the cost of implementing a permitting process, Lenzen said a permit would cost a resident $80.
If the council decided against fully recovering the cost of the permitting process for livestock, Lenzen said it is likely the city’s sustainability section would simply have to take that on as another responsibility.
Council generally approved of the changes, but suggested there be a grace period for those who already are raising livestock to acquire a permit at a reduced rate. Any implementation of a fee associated with a permit could not be done later in the year.
Should a permit be denied, a resident would be able to appeal the decision to the city manager.
Councilmember Jamie Whelan wondered if Council was perhaps going too far with some of the changes they were making to the animal ordinance.
“I would just ask us to really think about how much we need to manage this,” Whelan said. “I just think less control over items when we can have less control is a much better idea; I think less raising fees when we can have control of that is a much better idea.”