The Goat Battle Continues in Edgewater

© Alison Rose Photography

© Alison Rose Photography

What is the meaning of urban living and where do farm animals fit into that environment? Since Edgewater resident and goat owner Alison Williams brought up concerns about zoning codes related to animals last April, Edgewater City Council has been discussing an Animal Ordinance. Last night (12/3/2015), City Council came close to a decision, but concerns about what to do with residents like Williams, who already have goats, prevented a resolution.

Alison Williams brought to the attention of City Council last April that her goats counted toward the total number of animals allowed in current zoning codes. Over the last few months, City Council has been workshopping the idea of a Animal Ordinance to deal with this concern and make sure that residents don’t have the ability to own bigger farm animals like cows or horses. They have listened to sustainability experts from other surrounding communities and listened to how other cities like Denver, Wheat Ridge and Lakewood have dealt with the issue.

On one side of the debate are residents who see goats as part of living sustainably and encouraging a local food ecosystem. On the other side are residents who are concerned about the smell and noise that goats bring. They are argue that Edgewater is an urban environment with small lot sizes and goats just don’t fit into that environment.

Last night, a second and final reading of the Animal Ordinance was heard twice, but voted down both times. On the first motion, Council Members Keegan, Conklin, Keeble and Riddle voted against the Animal Ordinance with the language allowing goats with certain restrictions. Council Members Spangenberg and Mulcahy voted for the Ordinance. Council Member Swanson was not in attendance last night.

Click here to read the Animal Ordinance that was discussed last night.

Then the discussion shifted to keeping the Animal Ordinance, but removing any reference to goats. This would mean that the goats would not be allowed in Edgewater as of May 2016. Council Members Keegan and Riddle mentioned talking with many residents who were opposed to goats within city limits because of the smell and small lot sizes. Council Members Spangenberg and Mulcahy countered with examples of residents they talked to who were in favor of sustainability and goats. Riddle raised the question of what to do with residents who already had goats. Would there be a way to grandfather them into the new zoning codes? If there wasn’t a way to grandfather them into the new codes then he would be opposed to an ordinance without the mention of goats.

Another motion was made to remove the mention of goats from the Animal Ordinance. Keegan, Keeble and Conklin voted for the amended ordinance while Spangenberg, Riddle and Mulcahy voted against. Because there was a tie, Mayor Teegardin broke the tie voting against the ordinance. Teegardin was concerned that there was no guarantee that the concern of grandfathering in current goat owners would be heard in the future by Council.

Council Member Conklin then put forth the original motion with goats mentioned in the Animal Ordinance and votes fell just as in the prior vote. But this time Mayor Teegardin voted against the ordinance. With both versions of the ordinance failing, Riddle made a motion to table a resolution to this issue until January 7 when it could be heard by the full City Council.

So the debate over whether goats should be allowed in the City of Edgewater continues. What began as an issue between one neighbor who loves goats and considers them a part of a their family, and the other neighbor who hates the smell and noise, continues.

6 Comments on "The Goat Battle Continues in Edgewater"

  1. goddamnit. i just voted for these people and they’re already screwing up. Let the goats be! I live near these animals and have never heard a sound let alone smell anything. Plus, they’re adorable! Let Alison and her animals be, so much more to deal with. This all feels so petty.

  2. Let people have goats! Edgewater will lose some of its “cool” vibe if it gets a reputation for being a place that restricts what people can do in their yards. It would be different if there were legitimate environmental concerns; but having goats is part of the new trend in eco-friendly living.

  3. Gina Hartley | Dec 5, 2015 at 8:18 am | Reply

    I have been in attendance at every meeting where the animal ordinance has been discussed. My family owns a house on the same block where the two little pigmy goats are currently located and I have been a regular visitor at this neighbors house to investigate the goat situation on sunny, hot, rainy snowy and cold days. I have watched the current owner of the goats make changes recommended by sustainable urban farmers in other communities to her current environment and I have never been offended by smells or noise. I am like the neighbors currently living next to the goats and and directly behind the goats we have in our community now, who would welcome the opportunity of having the same set up with strict rules about goats next to me. Three generations of my family members who have lived in this community since 1963 support having the opportunity to continue to choose to have animals that support a sustainable and healthy lifestyles in our back yards.

    I am grateful our council and mayor voted to continue the discussion with another work session in January. A great amount of work and discussion has already been put into this ordinance and more discussion about animals and sustainability needs to take place with the vote being so close and the goats being the remaining issue at this time. Our neighboring communities are making it possible for sustainable urban farming which includes pygmy goats to take place in their urban communities and I am hoping that with all council present and with input from residents, this new council will be able to reach a decision that will move us in a direction where we continue to have a choice to live a sustainable lifestyle in this urban community just like past residents have had the ability to do.

    The ability to practice sustainable urban farming was possible in Edgewater before this ordinance work began. No laws were in place for chickens and other urban farm animals. It is great living in a small “CITY OF CHOICE”. If you want to have the same choices that our neighbors in Denver, Lakewood, Wheatridge, Arvada and Golden have towards towards sustainability I encourage encourage you to come and support the original ordinance presented before council Thursday night or bring a suggestion to the council at the next meeting.

    One citizen’s comments at the last meeting had a huge impact on the council vote on Thursday. An amendment based on that citizen’s recommendations was made to this ordinance on Thursday. One citizen’s suggestions presented at public comment time created an ammendment to the ordinance up for vote. This citizen’s voice was heard and new language was put into the ordinance which would have eliminated small pigmy goats from our community and the opportunity for the resident who has the sustainable practice in place to continue. One voice during public comment changed this ordinance and the amended ordinance was one vote away from being voted into a new law. Your feedback is important! A 3-3 vote with our mayor exercising his vote ti break the tie saved the goats this week. (one council member was absent) A 4-3 (old council ) and 2-4 new council (missing 1 council member at the last meeting) straw vote shows this issue is still very close right now. If the majority of citizens in this small community were active in this issue instead of a just a handful who have attended and spoken during all discussions it would be interesting to see which direction this ordinance will go.

    The restrictions put on the goats in this ordinance are very strong. The professionals who spoke to the council about goats in urban communities were powerful and opened my eyes to the positive impact goats and chickens and bees are having in urban communities like ours. The majority of the neighbors living in proximity of the current goat situation on a daily basis, who I have spoken with, are supportive of 2 small pigmy goats being allowed and they support the goats there now.

    I encourage anyone who has a dog, cat, rabbit or chicken, goat or other animal on your property, or any interest in sustainability to read this ordinance. If you have more than two dogs and two cats you might be surprised to know you are breaking law in this city now. If you have dogs,cats, goats, chickens or rabbits in your back yard now, or any interest in ever having a sustainable life choice in your community, I encourage you to read the ordinance and come to the next council meeting and share your thoughts.

    Your voice can be heard at the next meeting if you show up. If you can’t make it to the meeting then email your feedback to the council members who represent you. One citizen’s voice at the meeting on Thursday night brought a brand new motion to the floor that completely changed the attached ordinance. If you don’t have time to attend the council discussions write your comments down and get them to someone who will be at the meeting and who will make sure your comments are presented and heard.

    If you have any resources to promote sustainable urban farming in a community like ours please share.

    It is great to see Joel getting the information about the meeting out through the Echo and really exciting to see on this forum that goats have at least 3 citizen’s who support them!!

    Blessings to all who continue to share their thoughts! Your voice is important!!!

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