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Action Alert: Dwarf Goats in Wheat Ridge!

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(If you’d like, you can jump down to the “Action Alert” section below.)

The city of Wheat Ridge has a rich agricultural history and a modern legacy of great urban agriculture/sustainability laws. However, when the fantastic set of new urban ag laws passed in 2010, there was one omission — dwarf dairy goats.

Wheat Ridge currently does not make any distinction between a full-size goat (around 150 pounds) and a dwarf goat (around 55-60 pounds). The current law requires a lot with at least 9,000 square feet of open space in order to raise a goat. This is a prohibitive restriction for urban homesteaders and would-be backyard dwarf goat owners, and this amount of space is not required to safely raise dwarf goats.

Backyard dwarf dairy goats are currently allowed (with minimal space requirements) in Denver, Seattle, Portland, and Oakland — among other cities. Each dwarf goat can provide up to a quart of milk for a family each day, which can be consumed as liquid milk or used to make yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and soap. There are economic, environmental, and health benefits to the keeping of backyard goats.

Wheat Ridge is currently considering changing its urban agriculture laws to allow the keeping of dwarf dairy goats with a few common-sense guidelines (130 square feet of permeable space per goat, structure must be set back 15 feet from side and rear property lines, maximum of 3 goats plus their unweaned offspring, females and neutered males only). However, this ordinance must be approved by the City Council in order to become law.

ACTION ALERT

*Current Wheat Ridge dwarf goat owners — please see a special note for all of you at the bottom of the Action Alert.

Please take just a minute of your time and send an email to the Wheat Ridge City Council. It is important that they understand that allowing backyard dwarf dairy goats is an important part of comprehensive urban agriculture and sustainability policies.

Please copy and paste the following into the “To” section of your email:
bstarker@ci.wheatridge.co.us, jeditullio@ci.wheatridge.co.us, zurban@ci.wheatridge.co.us, gpond@ci.wheatridge.co.us, kdavis@ci.wheatridge.co.us, tfitzgerald@ci.wheatridge.co.us, gwooden@ci.wheatridge.co.us, tlangworthy@ci.wheatridge.co.us, jjay@ci.wheatridge.co.us, info@eatwhereUlive.com

Subject:
Please support dwarf goats in Wheat Ridge!

Email:
Please just write a sentence or two about why you’d like the council to vote in favor of allowing dwarf goats in Wheat Ridge. You can state that dwarf goats are established urban homesteading animals and that they’re being raised successfully in other cities, that Wheat Ridge needs to continue to be a leader in urban agriculture and sustainability, that allowing these animals with common-sense guidelines is in keeping with Wheat Ridge’s agricultural heritage — or say whatever feels right to you. Please include your address when you sign your email, so that they understand that you are in fact a Wheat Ridge resident.
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Bonus Action Alert — If you have an extra couple of minutes, please call the two City Councilmembers from your district. You can find their listings by clicking here. I’ve already spoken to a number of them on the phone, and they are all very friendly and happy to talk about this.

—–

For Current Wheat Ridge Dwarf Goat Owners:
Your participation is going to be a crucial part of getting this ordinance passed. I know that if you are currently keeping backyard dwarf goats you’re doing a good job of flying under the radar, but with the laws as they currently are you’re just one bad neighbor (or one investigating zoning officer) away from getting busted. The law that is currently being proposed is a good one for backyard dwarf goat owners. We need to get involved to make sure that it passes — and that it doesn’t get amended along the way with unnecessary restrictions.

(I know that you may be wary of revealing yourself as a dwarf goat owner, for fear of getting in trouble. The City Councilmembers I’ve spoken with have stressed that they do not have an investigative capacity, and they have no interest in causing problems for anyone. If you’re extra-worried, you can call the Councilmembers and speak with them anonymously.)

Please complete the email Action Alert described above. However, it would be very helpful if you would put something like “Currently raising dwarf goats in Wheat Ridge!” as your subject line, to make your email stand out. In your email you can describe how well your goats fit in your neighborhood, and that you don’t have problems with your neighbors. Ask the Council to please refrain from adding unnecessary rules and restrictions to the ordinance, which is not in keeping with the spirit of Wheat Ridge’s other urban ag rules.

When it comes time to make phone calls, I strongly encourage you to contact at least your 2 Councilmembers. In addition, there is one Councilmember who has expressed some reservations about this ordinance. He has been concerned that this is being brought to Council because of one family (mine) and he needs to understand that there are other families in Wheat Ridge currently raising dwarf goats. I have talked with him, and he very much wants to hear from other dwarf goat owners — anonymously, if you would prefer. Please call Councilman Zachary Urban at (720) 252-5930.

 

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