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Animals in the city


I'm currently planning in a very rural very small city. The city has in the past allowed almost any animal to be within the city limits. The City is looking at limiting that right by acreage requirements to lower the impact on neighbors and to protect the health of the animals. Does anyone have sample of zoning requirements allowing animals if the person has enough land? Also does anyone have samples of any ordinances that require a set back for the animals from the property line?



Dear Leader
Staff member
Boulder County, Colorado uses the concept of "animal units" -- that an animal is defined by a certain "unit size", and that a certain level of "units per acre" are permitted depending on the zoning. For instance, a horse may be 1 unit, a head of cattle 1.5 units, a sheep .5 units, dog .3 units, and so on.
My only advice is to try to avoid the use of special exceptions or conditional permits. People become very emotional about animals, and animal cases can result in some of the most divisive public hearings you can imagine. Lots of people love their pot-bellied pigs better than they love their neighbors.

mike gurnee

This was a major issue with our last zoning revision. Coming from a 'rural' culture we permitted animals everywhere--except goats and pigs. Also a detailed list prohibited exotic animals. The chickens behind city hall may have been quaint, but at times annoying.

My review committee wanted to control but not prohibit animals. First we wanted to allow horses in certain areas with controls. Then if you can have a horse, why not a cow? If a cow, why not an emu? Then there were rabbits and other various 4-H projects.

We tried a land capability formula. The state had already spoken on the topic for confined feeding operations. One dairy cow = 1.5 horses = 4.5 pigs = 20 geese. We decided not to go there.

As Linden suggested, we decided to let the zoning board fight the battle. The code permits 2 horses per fenced acre for personal use in the large lot residential district.

"Other non-commercial animal husbandry may be allowed ... after review by the BZA as a special exception. The BZA shall take into consideration the location of enclosures, size and number of animals kept, potential for neighborhood nusance, among other items. The BZA shall not have authority to contradict the animal control ordinance."

The permitted 2 horses per fenced acre sets the tone for what may be allowed by the BZA. We did not detail standards such as setbacks: a pig pen is different from a rabbit hutch. When a case comes before the BZA, we contact the ag extension agent for advice.

We also shortened the process. most conditioinal uses require full public notice to owners within 200 feet. For this special exception, notice is limited to adjacent owners. (Our state makes a distinction between conditional use and special exception.)

If you use the terms "domestic" or "non-domestic" be careful with definitions.

Linden Smith

Yep, thats a toughie.

I would think the best way to handle the situation is to make the keeping of non-domesticated animals a conditional use in the residential zones, with guidelines for lot size and setbacks needed to grant the use. I would not make it a permitted use in some zones, and prohibited in others, this issue is best handled by the Board of Adjustment, rather than in a full zone change. Be careful with the first few cases, they will set the tone for all the rest.

I can't say I've ever seen any examples of such an ordinance, but if you would e-mail me I maybe can find something close.

Josh Pastin

Here in Anchorage, AK, we live among moose (in the city), and sheep and bears on the outskirts of town, along with beavers and bald eagles.

The way this is achieved is by connecting the green spaces leading to the mountains with greenbelts and buffers.

From what I've heard on the NBC news, in Mammoth Lakes, bears and humans coexist with one another.

The best resources therefore might be found in Mammoth Lakes (Muni of), Anchorage, or even places like Montana, or Wyoming (I'm thinking Helena, Butte, Jackson Hole, and Cheyenne).

Hope that helps,