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Photo courtesy of Serenbe Soul & Style

City Delays Vote On Animal Ordinance Change That Would Allow Some Goats and Pigs

You may recall the poorly titled post from earlier this month, “Decatur Will Vote To Specifically Allow Pygmy Goats and Pot-Bellied Pigs This Month“.  In it, we reported the City Commission would vote on clarifications this month to the city’s animal ordinance that would allow up to two pygmy goats and/or pot-bellied pigs on Decatur property.

Well, the last Commission meeting of Jan 2014 is now past us and not a word has been spoken from behind the commission desk about our four-legged friends.

What’s up?

Decatur Planning Director Amanda Thompson tell us that “City staff has delayed consideration of the Animal Ordinance to consolidate definitions between Article I and Article II of Chapter 14 Animals.” She anticipates it will return to the agenda sometime this Spring.

In case you’re curious, Article 14 Chapter 1 in the city ordinances deals with establishing laws about “Animals”.  Topics include things like –  no keeping hogs and pigs, rules about having livestock (hint you need 2+ acres to even entertain the idea), and details on keeping chickens, ducks, rabbits, etc.  Article II deals with Animal Control – items that outlaw training animals for fighting or abusing animals, to laws keeping animals on a restraint and making sure you have a permit from the Police Dept for your wild animal.

Photo courtesy of picbot via Flickr

Urban Agriculture Policy Best Practices Study Released

The Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory and Georgia Organics just released a comprehensive look at urban agriculture policy across the US. The 94-page study surveys the zoning ordinances of sixteen cities, from Nashville to New York and including Atlanta, for the ways in which each municipality has incorporated urban agriculture into its land use plans and practices.

You know you want to download and read this baby. It’s right here.

I, for one, hope that its readers include members of Decatur’s Zoning Ordinance Revision Task Force. There is some valuable stuff in here. Each city in the study was chosen either because of its longstanding support for urban agriculture or because of its recent efforts to revise its zoning. Ultimately, the authors of the report conclude, “there is no exact formula for the successful implementation of urban agriculture initiatives.” Each community needs to craft its own approach, based on the needs of its residents and available land.

That said, some common themes emerge. Most of the cities in the study include provisions in their zoning for community gardens, produce sales, and keeping animals, such as chickens, bees, and yes, small hoofstock (yes, I still want my goats). They do regulate these activities—especially animal keeping—and it’s well that they should, for the well being of both the human and non-human creatures. Continue reading “Urban Agriculture Policy Best Practices Study Released”

City Presents “Original Green” Author

What is “green?” Bamboo floors and photovoltaic roof panels? Sleek LEED buildings and EnergyStar appliances? Granola and weed?

That’s something the city’s looking to explore tomorrow by hosting Steve Mouzon, author of “The Original Green,” for a free public lecture at Agnes Scott. (Full disclosure: I helped with some of the organizing.)

Looking back through history, when people lived sustainably not because they chose to but because they had to, Steve offers a compelling alternative to the idea that high-tech solutions are the only path to sustainability.

As he puts it:

Before the Thermostat Age, the places we built and buildings we built had no choice but to be green. Otherwise people would freeze to death in the winter, die of heat strokes by summer, starve to death, or other really bad things would happen to them. Today, as we are working to re-learn how to live sustainably, much of the focus is on the gadgetry of green: Gizmo Green. This notion that we can simply invent more efficient mechanisms, and throw in some bamboo to boot, is only a small part of real sustainability.

Instead, Steve looks at the lessons of the past — sustainability practices that evolved, as opposed to being invented — and examines how they might be incorporated into our future.

What wisdom lies in pre-1900 design and building practices? Join us to find out, 11:30am to 2pm, at Agnes Scott’s Evans dining hall. Get lunch upstairs, then bring it downstairs for the lecture.

Green on!

Decatur’s Long-Discussed 2-Acre Urban Farm Almost a Reality

Hands down the most interesting item on tonight’s Decatur City Commission agenda are requests from the Asst. City Manager David Junger regarding the long talked about urban farm on the property of the United Methodist Children’s Home.

For two years, the city has been openly talking about a possible Urban Farm Market on two rare open acres of land owned by the United Methodist Children’s Home, which sits just outside the Decatur city limits.  However, there were many hurdles to overcome.  Who would run such a farm and who would pay for it?

Yet again, it looks like Decatur has found a creative way of bringing parties together to make it a reality.

According to Mr. Junger’s letter – which is on page 33 of the attachments – about a year ago, city staff heard about the urban garden on Sams Street run primarily by refugee women resettled in the United States from Burundi.  (DM first reported on the effort back in June 2010)  The city contacted and met with Refugee Family Services, which runs the Sams Street garden project, who were very excited about the possibilities of the UMCH project and confirmed they had the skills and ability to manage to two acres.

Awesome news! But what about the money?

Continue reading “Decatur’s Long-Discussed 2-Acre Urban Farm Almost a Reality”

11Alive’s Doug Richards Picks Up Decatur Chickens…Story

Yep.  That chicken (and goat!) story.

Getting My Goats

My neighbors and partners in all-things-chicken and I got our first five birds back in 2004, shortly after I discovered, quite by accident, that poultry keeping was perfectly legal in Decatur. The laying hens were a gateway drug for me. Before long I was fantasizing about having a couple of small dairy goats.

The thing that has kept me from pursuing my caprine dreams, however, is this little phrase in Section 14-7.1 of our city ordinances: “Livestock shall be permitted on properties of at least two acres in size.”

Oh, well. I let it go — until a few months ago, when a kerfuffle about an Oakhurst resident with lots of fowl and, yes, goats, got my attention. According to her blog, the City sent out some code enforcement people to inspect her property and situation. And while she was told to do some clean-up and repair and to move her chicken coop, they determined that her three goats are “companion animals” and allowed her to keep them on her less-than-two-acre lot.

Continue reading “Getting My Goats”