BROWNHELM TWP. — Old McDonald can have a farm in the Greystone housing development and the man won’t interfere with it.
The Zoning Board unanimously decided Thursday not to rezone certain residential areas to regulate agriculture.
The issue arose when resident Sandra Kemp contacted the Zoning Board and asked members to consider rezoning the Greystone housing development at Middle Ridge and Baumhart roads from an agricultural residential district to strictly residential.
When Kemp’s neighbor Krista Schill decided to raise two pygmy goats, Kemp looked into the zoning code and learned that domesticated and agricultural animals are allowed on property in the Greystone development.
Kemp sought to prevent other neighbors from getting farm animals without conditional use permits and the unanimous approval from surrounding neighbors, and to change lot size minimums to 5 acres for those wanting to raise farm animals.
When notice went out to township residents that the Zoning Board would consider such a change, residents responded. The Township Hall was filled to capacity Thursday with people standing in the aisles and spilling out the doors.
Those present largely scoffed at the idea of a township trying to regulate farm animals, even on smaller lots in housing developments.
As Charlene Friend pointed out, the land where the Greystone development sits was once full of farm animals. If anything, housing developments ruin the aesthetics of the community and not animals, she said.
“After reading this letter I took offense to the language in there about their community wanting to stay residential and not farmland,” Friend said. “Those of you folks living in Greystone, I want to remind you: Where do you think you built your home? That property was dairy cattle farm.”
One woman called Friend “presumptuous” as Friend spoke, but she was quickly drowned out by applause from the majority of people in the room.
Those present said they don’t want to see the zoning board regulate agriculture in any way because as more rules are put in place Brownhelm Township will cease to exist.
“There’s always a ripple effect,” resident Jackie Boyce said. “You start changing rules and changing zoning and what does that do two years or five years down the line for the residents outside the subdivision? Avon — hello? It didn’t take very long for them to become non-country.”
Most present said they don’t want to limit anyone, even those in housing developments, from raising farm animals. Taking care of livestock, whether chickens, goats, horses, or cows, is rewarding, they said, especially for children in 4-H programs.
It’s nice to know where food comes from, they said.
“I’d rather have a pig next to me than a human,” one woman called out from the back of the room.
After a half-hour meeting the Zoning Board decided not to pursue regulation of farm animals or rezoning of any land.