A compromise has been reached that will allow goat farmers in Wales to continue farming under a special permit.
Eric and Kerry Beiter had been caught up in a tussle between a local zoning provision that restricts them and state agricultural law they contend allows their small family operation on East Creek Road.
The town requires the special-use permit, and the state had said a permit is “unreasonably restrictive” for a farm in an approved agricultural district like the Beiters’ farm. It said Wales must not limit the operation in that way.
Town officials reached a compromise with state officials allowing the town to issue the Beiter farm a special-use permit, and the permit cannot be revoked unless the operation threatens the health and safety of the animals or community, Kerry Beiter said.
The Beiters submitted an application this week to the town with information on their grazing, organic systems and nutrient management plans, as well as the guideline that their 7.5 acres of land can support 105 goats.
“We’re not asking for 105 animals,” Kerry Beiter said.
They hope to meet with town officials in two weeks and obtain the permit before Christmas.
The Beiters had obtained one special-use permit several years ago that allows six goats. They eventually acquired eight more goats, and later balked at applying for another permit because they felt it was not needed within an agricultural district.
The town changed the code this year, making the permit permanent instead of renewable, and changing the definition of what constitutes a farm. A special-use permit is required, but it is permanent unless the conditions change.
Councilman Gerald Klinck, chairman of the code committee, said, “It was a long work in progress.”
The Beiters were concerned about investing additional money in their farm if the permit could be revoked in the future, and they did not want to be limited to six goats.
Eric Beiter said,“If everything happens as they say it will and complies with Ag and Markets, I will be happy with it.” He added that he may buy a llama to protect his herd from coyotes.
Supervisor Rickey Venditti said the new permit process that goes with the land should make the Beiters’ farm more valuable if they should want to sell in the future.