Goats get the boot in Cobleskill


By Patsy Nicosia

No goats.
That's the outcome of an eight-month study by the Village of Cobleskill's Planning Board that looked at ways to allow goats on some half-acre parcels.
In August 2013, the village's Zoning Board of Appeals denied a request from Susan Carver and Ken Nichols for a variance that would have let them keep goats on their North Grand Street property.
Then-Mayor Mark Galasso asked the Planning Board to take a look at "gray areas" in the code regarding livestock-chickens have long been allowed-and Tuesday, Planning Board Chairman Jamie Bautochka, along with Ms. Carver and Mr. Nichols, argued in favor of allowing goats under strict guidelines.
But they had no takers on the village board.
Mayor Linda Holmes praised the work the Planning Board put into their recommendations--which would require special-use permits and allow only healthy female or neutered male goats no taller than 30 inches in fenced backyards--but still, called them flawed.
"The biggest problem is that we don't have someone to keep track of this nor do we have the money in the budget," Mayor Holmes said.
With houses so close in the village and many properties long, narrow lots, she said, goats in the village just aren't appropriate.
"I was a farmer, I grew up on a farm. And there's a reason why people came to the village: They wanted to leave the farm."
Ms. Bautochka argued that even though it's a village, Cobleskill is an agricultural community.
Fewer than 100 properties would meet the half-acre requirement, she said, and of those, fewer than a half-dozen would likely be interest in goats.
"I was a farm girl too," Ms. Bautochka said. "And when I moved to Cobleskill, we had cows next to us. As a kid, I took care of goats for other people. These people [who want goats] pay taxes too."
Codes Enforcement Officer Mike Piccolo said other communities that allow livestock rely on an Animal Enforcement Officer for enforcement.
"I don't have a scale to take out to see if a goat weighs 120 pounds," he said.
"And I'm not going out and lifting up the back end of a goat to see if it's castrated. If it becomes part of the code, it becomes part of my job."
Trustee Howard Burt said he has almost five acres and he still sees goats as incompatible with living in the village.
There was some discussion of grandfathering in existing goats-there are already two properties with illegal goats-unless there complaints over things like noise, but that didn't go anywhere.
Now, the village has to decide what to do about the chickens that Mr. Piccolo said he's been "turning a blind eye to."
"Your time wasn't wasted," Mayor Holmes told Ms. Bautochka, who said the village could use the Planning Board's work to find a way to accommodate chickens.