Cooper said when the topic was first introduced, he was not in favor of creating an ordinance to deal with complaints that had been brought to city hall. But after thinking about it, he chose to move forward with drafting an ordinance because of his concern for protecting animals’ rights and health and the rights and property values of adjacent property owners.
“When this came up last fall, I did not support the idea of an ordinance to take care of this,” Cooper told the council after making the motion to adopt the ordinance. “I really thought that individual property rights were more important. But after talking to people who are interested and knowledgeable on the subject and doing some research, I do support one now.
“Certainly, if neighbors were always neighborly and considered the rights of others, we wouldn’t have a need for half of the ordinances we have today.”
What the ordinance says
The restrictions in the ordinance strictly prohibit the keeping of pigpens anywhere within the city limits, regardless of size or zoning. All other livestock except poultry and goats must be kept on a fenced lot of at least 2 acres of land per animal dedicated for that specific purpose. The ordinance defines livestock as all farm animals including, but not limited to, cattle, buffalo, sheep, horses, llamas, donkeys and mules.
The ordinance also sets out some other clarifications about where livestock can be.
“No livestock can be permanently boarded (more than four days continuously) within 200 feet of a neighboring residence, city park, church or school,” the ordinance reads.
It also specifies that all livestock shall be confined to property by proper fencing and may not go on the property of another unless the land owner gives permission and the owner is in direct control of the animal. Also, livestock may only be on the streets if animal waste is promptly and thoroughly removed. Appropriate cover for all animals is to be “easily accessible by the animal(s).”
Councilman Lynn Cooper, who drafted the ordinance, moved to adopt it, and councilman Jeff Baier seconded the motion, stipulating that he wanted current livestock owners to have a full year to come into compliance with the ordinance.
Cooper said in his research he found that an ordinance like the one he proposed was not unique to Wilmore, and he stressed that the ordinance was designed to “regulate,” not “prohibit” the keeping of farm animals. He found similar ordinances in cities such as Nicholasville, Danville, Georgetown, Berea, Mayfield, Florence and Bowling Green, among others.
After reading other ordinances, Cooper said he “wondered why we hadn’t adopted one already.”
Cooper said he believed the ordinance would help the council fulfil its duties to do the “greatest good for the greatest number of people.”
“We’re not the big, bad wolf trying to eliminate horses in the horse capital of the world as some have indicated,” Cooper said.
The council didn’t have much discussion of the ordinance and voted to approve the ordinance with a few minor word changes about 25 minutes into the meeting.
Councilman Jim Brumfield cast the lone “neigh” vote on the first reading.
“I think it would be better, in our town, if people could work things out without us having to settle their differences,” he said after the meeting adjourned. “If we have to have an ordinance, this one seems fair. But I really don’t see a need for an ordinance.”
The ordinance will get a second reading in the coming council meetings and, if passed a second time, will need to be published before it becomes active. Current livestock owners would have one year to make arrangements with their current animals to come into compliance with the ordinance’s requirements.