Livestock-barn variance tabled
'There are two pigs today. How many will there be tomorrow— How many in five years—'
PLATTSBURGH — A plan to build a barn for livestock on property next to Champlain Park met with opposition from neighbors and was tabled.
Kayla and Jeffrey Peate sought a variance from the Town of Plattsburgh Zoning Board of Appeals to build a 30- by 40-foot barn on 13 acres of land owned by Kayla's mother, Mitzi Bonhomme, next to the residential area. The variance is required because there is no principal structure on the property.
The Peates presently have four goats, three sheep and two pigs in pens. Jeffrey said they also plan to get some chickens.
They have since erected an 8- by 12-foot shelter on the property. Town of Plattsburgh Codes Officer Steve Imhoff said it doesn't require a variance because it measures less than 96 square feet.
The Peates said they were surprised by the opposition to the animals.
"I knew there was going to be some but didn't realize how many people would be opposed to it," Kayla said.
The shelter built most recently could be winterized, but they plan to pursue acquisition of the variance at the next Zoning Board meeting so they can build the bigger structure. Kayla said they plan to breed the pigs but would sell the piglets, so there wouldn't be more than two adult pigs on the property.
Champlain Park resident Debbie Blake said the land was originally intended to be part of Champlain Park. She said it is covered by covenants that state only residential uses are allowed.
The town's new Comprehensive Land Use Plan also calls for the area to be residential, not agricultural, Blake said. That plan is expected to soon be formally adopted by the Town Council.
Bill Plympton of Cumberland Head Road was one of the residents who circulated a petition that opposes the variance — it was signed by a total 17 people who live nearby.
He said he likes to sit out in his yard and enjoy the outdoors but fears that will end because of flies and odor of nearby livestock.
"I can't believe this can be accepted when all these people could be affected by the unknown," he said.
Champlain Park resident Susan Leary, who lives next door to the animals, said there is some odor but not enough to be bothersome.
"I don't really see a problem," she said.
Champlain Park resident Shirley Tedford said she doesn't have a problem with the animals as long as the number stays small. It's nice to see people going back to living off the land, she said.
Kayla pointed out that Leary and Tedford are the closest neighbors to the animals after her father, Steve Bonhomme; he lives right next door.
"If anyone had a problem with it, it would be them," she said.
Rose Wells said the goats got loose and were rummaging through her yard on Cumberland Head Road a couple of weeks ago.
Bonhomme said the fencing has since been improved.
One of the best things about moving to Cumberland Head, Wells countered, is the fresh air. She used to live next to a poultry farm in Chazy and remembers the odors there as unbearable.
Andy Fisher maintained the animals are already affecting his quality of life. He and some guests were driven back inside this summer as they attempted to visit in his yard.
"The flies were horrendous," Fisher said.
Frank Pabst, another Cumberland Head Road resident, questioned what would prevent the owners from adding to the small menagerie.
"There are two pigs today," he said. "How many will there be tomorrow— How many in five years—"
He said it's easy to increase the number of animals once you start and noted the Peates wouldn't have to come back for a variance for every time they add another one.
Other issues included concerns about waste disposal and the attraction of predators.
The Zoning Board tabled the issue until its 6 p.m. Nov. 10 meeting at the Plattsburgh Town Hall, giving the Peates the opportunity to produce a deed that shows the property is not covered by restrictive covenants.
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