Metro-East News

St. Clair County Zoning Board says no to residential chickens, goats

Chickens and mini-goats in unincorporated parts of St. Clair County being allowed in residentially-zoned areas received a thumbs down on Monday.

The St. Clair County Zoning Board of Appeals recommended a proposal to allow any domesticated animals in unincorporated areas be denied. The issue is now set to go to the County Board for its final consideration.

Meghan DeGroot, who lives in an unincorporated single-family residential area near Belleville, has three chickens, two mini goats and two ducks on her Signal Hill property, proposed the amendment to be able to keep her animals on her property.

However, only domesticated household pets, such as dogs and cats, are allowed in single-family residential areas in the county. The text amendment she proposed would have allowed any domesticated farm animal such as fowl, bovine, and equine in single-family residential areas.

In his motion, zoning board member Scott Penny said residential lot sizes aren’t big enough for large animals, there would be health safety concerns.

“Landowners purchase property with the expectation they would not have to live next to certain types of farm animals,” Penny said.

He added enforcement to allow the amendment would create an additional expense for the county’s zoning department.

Currently people are allowed to have up to four household domesticated animals on their property. Under DeGroot’s proposal, the limit of four would have stayed in place.

DeGroot has the chickens and ducks for the eggs they lay, and she plans to use one of the mini-goats for milk. She wanted the animals because of health concerns of animals on commercial farms. DeGroot said there are already existing nuisance ordinances in the county code that could mitigate noise and smell concerns.

DeGroot said if the county board goes ahead and accepts the zoning board’s recommendation, she will plan to relocate her mini-goats and chickens to their previous owneres or to friends who are in rural areas.

Zoning board member Alexa Edwards said there was a previous case, where a person was allowed to have horses and goats.

The zoning board eventually received complaints about the animals getting out and eating valuable plants.

“It did not work well, because there is a residential, and there’s an agriculture,” Edwards said. “It seems we tried this before and it didn’t work.”

Julie Tedford who lives in Signal Hill, spoke against the proposal.

“If you want to farm, go buy a farm,” Tedford said. “When you open this door, the flood gates start (to open).”

Contact reporter Joseph Bustos at jbustos@bnd.com or 618-239-2451. Follow him on Twitter: @JoeBReporter.

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