Sedley family gets their goats

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Sedley family got the conditional use permit it sought from the Southampton County Planning Commission last Thursday, though it was not without discussion or drama.

Keith Munroe of 30384 Sycamore Ave., came before the panel requesting to have livestock for personal use in the R-1, Residential Zoning District. Since moving there in 2012, his children had asked for chickens and goats.

That night, Community Development’s deputy director Beth Lewis said she had received a complaint about the animals. The Munroes were advised to get a CUP. The application reportedly states that the goats serve as therapy animals for the children; Munroe even gave paperwork to the effect that the goats are “certified as an emotional support animal and registered with the National Service Animal Registry.”

He said the goats have “become part of the family.”

While the two goats use dog houses in the backyard, the chickens have a coop.

“Our yard is clean at all times,” said Munroe, adding that he’s never heard any complaints directly.

Commissioner Jack Randall, vice chairman, asked about the arrangement, and Monroe said there are about eight chickens; he’s asking for a limit of 12, but no roosters.

“They have no sense of time,” Munroe added.

Commissioner Dr. Alan Edwards asked if the goats are regular or pygmy goats. Regular, he was told. “What we’re dealing with is they’re family pets,” Edwards said.

Speaking for the family were Barbara Tatum and Jeff Harper, the latter of whom said he’s never seen the goats outside the property.

“The Munroes are wonderful neighbors,” she said, adding that they approached her about having the animals.

“They’re well taken care of,” Tatum said. “I was taken aback that anyone would complain.”

In contrast, fellow Sedley resident Cheryl Stepp said she didn’t initiate the original complaint, and stressed “there’s no personal vendetta here.”

Nonetheless, “If you want farm animals you have to live on a farm,” Stepp said. She said she has seen the goats have gotten out of the yard, and “I’ve had to stop at least once in the road.”

Her added concern is that to allow a few such livestock animals here will encourage other residents to follow.

Backing up Stepp in their opposition to the CUP were Minnie Rose and Cindy Edwards, who said she doesn’t know the family.

Called again before the panel to answer questions, Munroe first said the Stepp is lying about the goats having escaped the property. She and the other women were visibly taken aback.

Edwards asked about the height of the fence, which stands 4 feet tall.

Robin Bradshaw, who lives with Munroe, said she thinks there might have been one instance when the goats escaped, but they had been quickly corralled back home.

“These goats make them [the children] happy.” Bradshaw said.

“I understand frustration with the chickens, but that problem has been immediately solved,” she added. “We have quiet chickens.”

During panel discussion, Randall said, “I understand the concerns. My point is probably right in the middle. I would put some significant restrictions, such as fencing. Also, neuter the males. I’m trying to stick with precedent.”

Edwards agreed that the restrictions are reasonable.

An 8-foot high fence was recommended, but Lewis said 7 is the limit; 6 feet was agreed on.

As for chickens, there can be no more than 12, and none of them guineas.

All but one commissioner supported granting the CUP.