RW goats lose bid to live in town

RIDGEWAY – Since July, the burning question of whether goats should be allowed to live in downtown Ridgeway has hung in the air.  

When town resident Natalie Weathers brought two goats to live in the side yard of her residential property on Peach Street last summer, town council allowed her to keep the goats until council either amended the ordinance to allow goats or disallow goats in the town altogether.

When the Town originally gave Weathers notice that she was breaking the town laws by keeping the prohibited livestock within the town limits, she emailed town hall, asking council to reconsider the ordinance. In the email, Weathers said she acquired the goats to mow her lawn. 

Last week, after much ado by some members of council to accommodate Weather’s farm plan, council voted 2-1 against the goats.

Councilman Dan Martin, who favored the goat mowers, proposed an amendment to Ordinance 6-1001 which prohibits [live]stock and cattle from running loose on the streets of Ridgeway.

While Martin’s amendment was not aimed at reversing the ordinance to allow farm animals to run loose in town, if passed, it would have allowed them to live there – at least the goats – with the following three caveats:

1) Enclosure: Owners must have a minimum of 1/3 acre per animal accessible at all times. This land must be completely fenced in with appropriate fencing at least six feet in height;

2) Housing: Owners must have a minimum of 100 square feet of housing per animal with a minimum of 200 square feet. Housing must have a permanent roof and at least three permanent walls to protect animals from the elements;

3) Owners must have a one-time written approval from all contiguous land owners to have goats on property. These approvals will be kept on file with the Town.

The likelihood of Weathers meeting the third exception were next to nil since two of her neighbors had already complained to town hall about the goats.

While Weathers never appeared before council to argue her case, one of her next-door neighbors did come to a meeting last summer to argue against allowing goats to reside in town. Some council members agreed.

 “We’re opening a can of worms,” Councilman Rufus Jones had groaned at the July meeting. “Goats are farm animals…what’s the point? Goats are as smelly as cows.”

Jones was more direct at last week’s meeting.

“I’m not changing the ordinance,” Jones said. “Let it stay as it is. No goats. That’s how I feel about it.”

Councilman Don Prioleau shared Jones’ sentiment, joining him in the 2-1 vote against amending the zoning ordinance. Mayor Heath Cookendorfer cast the lone vote for the amendment.

Council members Dan Martin and Angela Harrison did not attend the meeting.

In other business, Council voted 3-0 to accept the county’s offer to purchase a 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe police vehicle for $25,000. It also voted unanimously to advertise the sale of a Ford Crown Victoria police vehicle.

Council voted 3-0 to advertise the former police station for rent – $400/month for the first year and $500/month for the second year, with a two-year agreement.