Goats gaining acceptance in Steamboat city limits | SteamboatToday.com

Goats gaining acceptance in Steamboat city limits

Planning Commission to consider ordinance in July

Goats owned by Ryan Wattles of Western Weed Alternatives in Milner munch on grass and the noxious weed whitetop at the home of Diane Brower and John Spezia in Fairview last week.

— Raising goats in the Steamboat Springs city limits could become more widely accepted this summer as a new goat ordinance enters the city process.

City Planner Jason Peasley said this week that the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission is scheduled to consider an ordinance at its July 14 meeting that would allow homeowners with adequate space in residential zone districts to raise dairy goats for personal use. Ultimately, the City Council would have to approve the measure.

"We're recognizing the movement to localize food production," Peasley said.

Fairview residents Diane Brower and John Spezia said they had a temporary, but positive experience with domestic goats last week when they retained Ryan Wattles of Western Weed Alternatives in Milner to deliver 14 goats (mothers and kids) to their yard to munch on the noxious weed whitetop.

"It was a lot of fun, and it attracted a lot of attention," Brower said. "Kids' Cabin (preschool) came so the kids (children) could see them."

The city now allows goats in a handful of neighborhoods that fall under residential estate zoning. Those areas typically have minimum lot sizes of a half-acre and often are more than an acre.

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The new ordinance would permit goats as a use with criteria in other residential neighborhoods, Peasley said. Goat owners would need to be able to provide 200 square feet of space per animal and could keep no more than three goats.

As the current draft of the ordinance is written, prospective goat owners would not have to go through a public hearing, nor would they have to notify their neighbors in advance of their plans, Peasley said. Applying for permission to keep goats would be a process more akin to registering an accessory apartment, he said.

Peasley said his colleague, code enforcement staffer Barb Wheeler, has done extensive research on how other Colorado communities permit small livestock, like goats, in the city. The intent of the Steamboat ordinance is to accommodate dairy goats and not the larger goats raised for meat, he added.

The Denver Post reported that the Denver City Council voted 7-3 Monday night to lower the barrier for residents who want to keep up to eight chickens or ducks (no roosters or drakes) and up to two dwarf goats on their property, with the only requirement being a $20 license fee.

Goats, ducks and chickens already were permissible in the Denver city limits, but the city previously collected a one-time $100 license fee, plus an annual fee of $50 for chickens and $100 for livestock such as goats.

Peasley said Brower's use of goats to keep down weeds has long been permissible in the city.

Brower said she spent $60 for the delivery and use of the goats and considered it less objectionable and less expensive than repeated applications of herbicide.

Whitetop is a competitive weed that has invaded rangelands in Northwest Colorado and has the potential to crowd out all other vegetation.

Brower said she expects she might have to invite the goats back for a second two-day feast if the whitetop plants in her yard flower again this summer.

"I'm happy to pay to support the development of this business in our area," she said.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com

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