Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Hailey P&Z says no to school livestock

Syringa Mountain School requests 25 chickens, a sheep and a goat

Express Staff Writer

    The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission voted Monday to deny recommendation to City Council a request by the Syringa Mountain School to amend the city’s zoning laws to allow for livestock on campus for educational purposes at city schools.
    The Syringa Mountain School is the first Waldorf-style charter school in the state and Mountain West region, with plans to include in its curriculum hands-on work with animals and gardening, stated a letter mailed to the commission.
    The commission voted 3-1 to deny the request, which would have expanded the definition of urban agriculture from bees and chickens [allowed in the General Residential zone], to include goats and sheep, and include a “reasonable number” of such animals in any zones where schools are allowed.
    Syringa Mountain School is scheduled to open in the Woodside business park this fall. The area is in the Light Industrial zone.
    School board chairman Greg Bloomfield told the commission Monday that the goat and sheep’s manure would be used as compost in the garden at the school.
    The request to allow animals at the campus began last winter when the school was hoping to build in the China Gardens subdivision.

There is surely to be a significant impact on surrounding properties.”
Jay Cone
Hailey P&Z

    The commission voted to deny the request based on possible impacts due to odors and the potential complexity and cost of regulating many issues regarding animal husbandry practices.
    “There is surely to be a significant impact on surrounding properties,” said Commission Chair Jay Cone.
    Syringa Mountain School representative Mary Gervase said the school is only interested in keeping one goat, one sheep and 24 chickens. She said a biodynamic farming and animal husbandry specialist is on staff at the school to provide guidance for regulating the animals, but the commission was not persuaded to allow the zoning change.
    “It’s not about the commission not wanting to do the work [of establishing regulations],” said Commissioner Regina Korby. “I think the parameters will not be able to be nailed down.”
    Commissioner Janet Fugate said passing the requested ordinance change could open a Pandora’s box with regard to livestock in the city. She said a definition of livestock includes ostriches, llamas and other animals.
    “Swine were mentioned in one city,” Fugate said.    Commissioner Dan Smith suggested that school leaders instead avail themselves of nearby farmers and livestock producers for educational purposes.
    “There is an awful lot of agriculture in close proximity to the school. I am sure a farmer would be happy to come to the school and shear a sheep for wool, or even allow the students to feed his livestock during winter for educational purposes.”
    In other Hailey news:
- The Hailey P&Z tabled until Aug. 11 a discussion of the proposed 12-unit Sun Burst Hills subdivision on Winterhaven Drive in Woodside subdivision. The commission requested of developer Brent Tanner more information from a civil engineer on drainage plans for the proposed cottage townhome-style development.

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