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Large animals OK on R1 lots in Smithfield, Planning Commission says

September 21st, 2012 Posted in Opinion

By Katie Swain

SMITHFIELD – A major change to animal regulations in residential (R1) zones was approved unanimously Sept. 19 by the city Planning Commission. The ordinance will allow people who have previously had large animals, but lost them for a time, to re-introduce those animals onto their residential property.

Until now the only way residents could keep large animals in R1 zones was to have had animals on their property every year since 1970.

“The intent of this ordinance is to allow people to bring animals back onto their land after they lost them for whatever reason,” deputy recorder Charlene Izatt said.

The ordinance sets a requirement of one acre of total land for large animals to be allowed on the property. It also limits the number of animals permitted on a property to two large animals for every acre of land.

Smithfield residents Wade and Dianne Campbell spoke during the public hearing, arguing that the ordinance was too restrictive and asking the commission to reevaluate the animal limitation,

“I may only have enough pasture for two horses, but I feed the rest,” Wade Campbell said. “One acre is plenty of room for four or more horses if you’re feeding them.”

“I like to teach lessons and I need a variety of horses for that,” said Dianne Campbell. “If I get restricted in the number of horses I can have, that can restrict my income and that’s going to hurt me in the long run. I would prefer higher numbers of animals allowed.”

Wade Campbell also came with list of people in the city who are not pleased with the restraints of the ordinance. “I have talked to several people around the city who will be affected by this ordinance, and they say the one acre requirement doesn’t help them,” he said. “In the future this ordinance would really restrict me, and I have concern with that.”

According to chairman David Price, the acreage requirement and animal limit are important to keep in the ordinance.

“What we need to remember is that one acre of land doesn’t mean one acre of animal access,” Price said. “Sometimes there’s only a quarter acre of land for horses on an acre of property, because the house is sitting on the rest of it. And we just don’t want that many animals on such a small land parcel.”

“We’re trying to strike a fine line between people who want animal rights and people who may not want farm animals in their neighborhood,” said Commissioner Jamie Anderson. “The issue is complicated, and we may not be striking the best line, but it’s the line we’ve put down.”

The ordinance will now move to Smithfield City Council where it will need to be approved before it becomes law.

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