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Friday, May 9, 2008

Nesting in peace...goats get to stay too

Milford PZB votes unanimously to let family keep animals

By Brian McCready
Milford Bureau Chief
— Debra Bourt and the entire Bourt family can rest easy: Their extended “family” will remain intact.
Bourt said that although her nerves have been frayed for more than a year worrying about whether she should would have to give up her three adult goats and 10 chickens, the animals can now bleat and cluck in peace.
The Bourts raised chickens and goats for close to seven years on their property at 148 Clark St. They say their little farm has blended well into the community, but the Bourts’ world was turned upside down earlier this year when anonymous letters appeared that appeared to personally attack them and raised issue with their animals.
It sparked a review by the Planning and Zoning Office, but the Planning and Zoning Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to allow the small herd and flock to remain. The Bourts will have to reapply in three years, and can only keep three adult goats and 10 chickens.
After the vote, Debra Bourt reacted by saying, “It’s great. I’m excited, a little speechless.”
“This has been going on for a year. It’s been awful,” Bourt said. “My whole family can rest easy. We’ve been on edge (about) whether we’d have to move or if we’d have to give up our animals.”
PZB member Kevin Liddy said he recalls campaigning at the Bourts and could personally attest that there was no smell emanating from the property. PZB Vice Chairwoman Kim Rose said the neighborhood has benefited from the Bourts and they are clearly “very responsible” about maintaining their property.
PZB Chairwoman Jean Cervin added that she has heard numerous positive comments from neighbors about the Bourts. During a recent public hearing, close to 20 neighbors and residents spoke in favor of the Bourts. No one spoke in opposition.
But Cervin also expressed concern that the PZB might be setting a precedent, noting it will have to take each case on an individual basis.
PZB member Frank Goodrich said 99 percent of the time, the PZB will not make everyone happy, but this was a rare exception.
“This is the opposite of development. It’s going back to our roots,” Goodrich said.
Liddy added that he did not want to limit the number of animals the family is allowed, since the Bourts have proven to be so responsible.
“What if they have 11 (chickens)? Do they have to cook it or fry it?” Liddy asked.
City Planner David Sulkis told board members that the application they were reviewing is a land use matter, but not about the Bourts.


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