Florida County enforcing fairytale rules to eject goats

Discussion in 'Goat Frenzy' started by RavenTBK, May 7, 2018.

  1. RavenTBK

    RavenTBK New Member

    Ugh. Just a rant. Wakulla County FL is pursuing a code enforcement effort to remove my 5 fainters I keep on a rural zoned acre. The adjacent neighbors love them as much as I do. The complainant is an older lady, high up name in the good ol boy network, who lives a half mile away, but has to (and her political fundraising guests have to) drive by my place to get to hers. Her blind complaint was that my 4 does and 1 wether would smell awful in the summer heat. Uhm, this is their second year here. Nobody cried last year, and I would think if there was an issue, my neighbors would hate it long before some snooty lady driving by to the country club gated community behind me with her AC on recirc 24/7 would even notice.

    Its bloody amazing. The ordinances are clear, there are no prohibitions on pets of any kind in the land use code nor anywhere else within the county code. The county considers anything with hooves to be an industrial livestock operation, but even then, there are no actual prohibitions about that either. Just "discussion" and "attorney opinion". The ordinance they cite as my violation deals specifically with structures, and the remedy is to move the goats elsewhere. It doesn't connect at all.

    If I was in the middle of a city, okay.
    If I was zoned anything urban, okay.
    If my neighbors had a problem, okay.
    If I was breeding, milking, selling, rescuing, anything remotely considered commercial, okay.
    If there was some obscure rule elsewhere in the county code I wasnt aware of before moving here, okay.

    There isnt anything. Just enforcement of feelings and fairytale.

    I'm pissed, and my goats aint goin nowhere. The department won't listen to reason, nor acknowledge the code at all. I've been told they "do it how they were taught" and that "the law is irrelevant". The county commission is too scared to address it, being an election year. One commissioner is on my side, agrees that the violation is ludicrous on its face given what he saw with his own eyes at my home, but cannot do anything without the rest of the commission, so he's a bit impotent. I've even drawn up possible ordinance revisions should the commission want to fix this unaddressed issue and protect everyone, but alas.

    I do, however, have the full support of all my adjacent property owners, and the support of some political and legal connections of my own that should make things interesting should this go south.

    I've diced up every possible comeback, and I'm legally good 9-ways-till-Sunday according to the two attorneys and 12 "smart people" that have reviewed my evidence.....but I've also been told the violation letter is where I should stop, considering its invalid to begin with.

    My code board hearing is on Wednesday. I cant wait to see how much I'm going to be fined per day. /rant
  2. ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Good luck with your hearing. It is a shame you have to go through this.

  3. yankeedoodle

    yankeedoodle Active Member

    Apr 12, 2018
    Fraser Valley,B.C.
    Whoa, that sucks! Hope those air heads get there act together and get the truth involved. That line," the law is irrelevant" really gets me going.
    But hey, I'm half Irish, so thats just what you get,I guess.

  4. Karen

    Karen Active Member

    No matter what you were told, the law is not "irrelevant" - if you have to, keep going higher up the chain of command until you find someone with a spine! "Her blind complaint was that my 4 does and 1 wether would smell awful in the summer heat." Hey - I am betting she never drives anywhere jun Florida in the summer without her car windows rolled up and the A/C on, How would she know what anything smelled like?
    Einhorn and yankeedoodle like this.
  5. Goats Rock

    Goats Rock Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    NE Ohio
    Call local radio stations, newspapers, etc. good luck!
  6. goatblessings

    goatblessings Fair-Haven Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2015
    Southwest Ohio
    I think it's the type of zoning you are dealing with. RR-2, RR-5 or Agricultural. If you are zoned in another rural area, check the laws pertaining to that existing zoning. They should not be adding rules to a zoning law that will not only affect you but others in your situation. Check existing law and see if that fits within your situation.
  7. Damfino

    Damfino Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2013
    Right behind you
    We faced almost this exact situation about eight years ago. We had a single goat living in our backyard in a neighborhood and all our actual neighbors loved him, but some guy who owned a vacant lot almost a mile away (but still in our unit) complained that our goat was devaluing his weed patch. The difference was that we were somewhat in violation of zoning ordinances. But our community wasn't in the habit of enforcing ANY of the zoning ordinances and hadn't been for 30 years, plus they had no money to pursue legal action, so we didn't take the zoning regulations very seriously. No one really cared about the zoning regs except for this one guy in the community who kept tabs on every violation in town, and he would bring up these violations at every single board meeting. We were just one of a long list of wrong-doers.

    The funny part was that two of the zoning board members were close neighbors to us, and they loved our goat and didn't want us to get rid of him. So every time they sent a threatening letter, one of them would run over to our house in person and apologize profusely for having sent it. They only did it because they were cowed by the one troublemaker. We eventually got every person who actually lived in our unit to sign a petition requesting that we be allowed a variance to keep our goat. We were ready to bring the issue to a community battle because we knew most of the town was on our side. The zoning board didn't want to deal with that, so one of them came to our house privately and told us that they were going to uphold their "responsibility" (and appease the troublemaker) by continuing to send letters, but that we could feel free to throw them in the garbage because the board was never going to bring legal action.

    Eventually we moved to an actual farm where we could keep as many goats as we liked, and right around the same time the entire zoning board resigned at once because they were sick of this one person who wouldn't quit pestering them about everything. I guess the back story there is that the fellow owned some slummy rental properties in the trailer park and neighbors would complain that he wasn't maintaining them. This guy was in severe violation of the codes, but since he didn't want to fix his rentals up, he would turn the tables and bring up every other minor infraction in the area and press the board to enforce all of them. Small town politics--I tell ya!

    Good luck with your situation. Keep your place looking tidy and get public opinion on your side. It helps a lot.
    yankeedoodle likes this.
  8. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    All really good advice.

    Maybe too, make up a petition in your favor for other neighbors in that area saying there is no smell or anything that bothers them about the goats.
    You will need so many signatures, for it to be valid, not sure how many for your state, but it is worth it to ask.

    If you were a dairy I could understand, but you are not. Now they stink.
    Makes no sense at all, the complaint about a few goats.

    Is that neighbor that is complaining coming onto your property and in with the goats to be smelling them? Because I can't smell my goats from my house or the road driving by with the window down. I have quite a few goats.

    If the neighbor is upwind, still she shouldn't be able to smell them. Not just 5 goats.
    yankeedoodle likes this.
  9. RavenTBK

    RavenTBK New Member

    Well, saving the gory details, I was found "guilty" of violating ordinance at the code board hearing. They however held off with sanctions until next January to give me an opportunity to change the law to be positively in my favor, versus unaddressed as it is now. Fines are a 150 administrative fee for the "honor" of coming before the board, 250 for the first day of noncompliance and 100 each thereafter. Its going to be an uphill fight, but even if I lose that too, they'll have to send the swat team out with the deputy. I aint budging.

    Their contention is that having a single hooved animal (their definition of livestock) on any parcel not specifically zoned is no different than an industrial goat/cow/pig farm being operated for profit. My argument is that my five goats are not being kept as items of future value as the term livestock is actually defined, but for the joy of keeping them period. Nor is my use of the goats in any way considered anything like an industrial livestock farm. No different than five dogs (but smelling better!). This absurd "hooved animal" argument has been used against people who have had a single horse on 5acres but wrong zoning, as well as families who have purchased a mini potbelly and kept exclusively in their home.

    The goal now is to convince the county commissioners to tackle this topic by creating a definition for "pets", a limitation on their number before you're reasonably considered commercial, and defining "livestock" as a property use. Hopefully positive definitions in one way or another will put me into compliance, and this ridiculous finding will be put to rest.
  10. Damfino

    Damfino Well-Known Member

    Dec 29, 2013
    Right behind you
    Good luck with it. At least you have the rest of the year. If you can get the majority of the public on your side and feeling passionate, the board will most likely have to back down or face backlash at the next election. I hope it goes well for you.
  11. yankeedoodle

    yankeedoodle Active Member

    Apr 12, 2018
    Fraser Valley,B.C.
    Wishing you the best...
  12. Goatzrule

    Goatzrule Well-Known Member

    Feb 7, 2013
    New England
    I would be taking your goats out to parades and dressing them up. Make them a town favorite.
    yankeedoodle, Damfino and Dwarf Dad like this.
  13. lifeonluber

    lifeonluber Member

    Feb 21, 2018
    That's what you call an old hag
  14. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    Good luck, hope you beat this.