Planners table livestock ordinance proposal

by Elsa Verbyla - Posted on Apr 16, 2014 - 02:17 PM

Facing a chorus of opposition, the Mathews County Planning Commission on Tuesday night decided to take more time on a proposal to set first-time grazing area requirements for people who own horses, cows and other large livestock animals.

Meeting in the historic courthouse, the planners and board of supervisors conducted a joint public hearing on the proposed zoning amendment. No speakers supported the amendment, while 14 people spoke against it.

Planning and zoning director John Shaw showed that many neighboring counties have such minimums, including Gloucester, Middlesex, King and Queen and York, while Mathews has none. This made no impression on the opponents. For instance, Jackie Wilton of Hallieford said, “It’s not the size of the plot the animal is on; it’s the size of the heart of people taking care of it.”

Acting on the request of animal control officer Jean Roberts, county planning and zoning director John Shaw drafted the proposed zoning rules. He said Roberts reported some problems in the county “regarding inadequate animal care as a result of inadequate shelter and inadequate grazing areas.” He said his office has occasionally received separate complaints of overgrazing.

The proposals “are not intended to be retroactive” but it is the intent “to encourage beneficial livestock practices and to preserve and enhance the rural characteristics of the county by providing for the responsible use of livestock,” Shaw wrote.

In summary, the proposals would set these regulations: