In attempt to establish controls on hog pens inside the corporate limits of Jonesborough, Tennessee’s oldest town is revising its livestock ordinance for the first time in 103 years.
While pot bellied pigs that live inside their owners’ dwellings are exempt from new regulations soon to be implemented in Jonesborough, hogs, chickens, goats, horses and other livestock and their shelters are all subject to restrictions passed on first reading by Board of Mayor and Alderman on Monday.
Discussion of possible additional revisions and second reading approval of the ordinance amendments will be considered by the board at its next regular meeting on Feb. 10.
While the town’s zoning code enforcement officer is unaware of any pigs currently residing inside the corporate limits of Jonesborough, the potential for their arrival was brought to the board’s attention during the citizens’ comments period of the board’s Dec. 9 meeting.
Town resident Allen Knight told the mayor and aldermen his neighbor already has chickens and goats on her property and has expressed a desire to have some pigs.
Knight said the woman’s property backs up to his yard on West College Street and while he can abide chickens and goats, he has more than one reservation about living with pigs.
On the board’s request, Town Administrator Bob Browning researched the Animal and Fowl Chapter of Jonesborough’s Municipal Code and discovered the ordinance was last revised in 1911.
According to Browning, the century old regulations allow hog pens anywhere inside Jonesborough municipal boundaries so long as they are located a minimum of 50 feet from any residence, business or street.
“This provision needs to be revised to provide more protection to adjoining property owners” Browning said in his report.
Browning’s research also found there are people who currently own chickens and horses in the town’s residential zones and the existing regulations do not limit them to any particular zone.
Recommended revisions of those regulations approved by the board on first reading Monday do not prohibit pigs but limit them to properties of at least five acres located in R-1 zones, the residential zone with the least density of human population, and a minimum of 200 feet from away from the line of any adjoining property. And because hogs create much more odor than other farm animals and livestock, the amendments also require any hog shelters and feeding areas have concrete base.
The new regulations further stipulate that hog pens and all other livestock enclosures must be permitted by the town’s building inspector who will have the authority to assess their design and construction to ensure they can be easily cleaned, properly maintained and kept sanitary.
Because of the increased interest in raising chickens, Browning recommended the board also consider “reasonable accommodations” so such chickens could be allowed in residential zones if there are no roosters and the number of hens is limited to 12 or some number like that.”
“Somebody that wants to raise more than 12 hens and have a rooster would have to have a minimum of one acre of property and any part of the enclosure would have to be at least 100 feet from the property line,” he said.
Finally, Browning noted that “many animals considered livestock can be less bothersome than a dog or a cat” and that “most complaints are bout odor, cleanliness and running at large.”
He requested the aldermen advise him of any additional criteria for hog pens or other animal enclosures they would like to address prior to their next meeting.
Knight said after Monday’s meeting he felt he needed to request the regulations before pigs actually become an issue in his neighborhood. “My neighbors are friends of mine but her backyard is my front yard, essentially. It’s right there at it,
“She has goats, but baby goats are cute. Pigs smell. Plus, if they get loose, pigs are pretty dangerous animals if they’re excited or made mad.
“In town, the houses are right on top of each other, right side by side. There’s too many children and people. Its’ just not a place you can have pigs.
“If you want pigs, you need to have a place where if they get out, you don’t have to worry about them attacking somebody. They say fences make good neighbors but not if they have holes in them.”