Gorham council weighs pet pig ruling

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Pet pig Wilbur, of Little Falls, needs Town Council help to stay with his Gorham family.

GORHAM — An overweight pig would violate a proposed rule change the town is considering to allow a small farm animal on a small lot in town residential zones.

At issue is whether a family’s pet mini-pig, Wilbur, can stay in a Little Falls urban residential area. Farm animals are not allowed there under the code, but the family hopes the Town Council will save Wilbur’s bacon.

“It’s nothing more than a pet in the first place,” Town Council Chairman Benjamin Hartwell said.

The Town Council is considering a proposed land use and development code change that would allow one farm animal weighing under 50 pounds on house lots under 40,000 square feet in urban and suburban residential districts.

Without Town Council help, Wilbur’s family would be hamstrung. If the rule is changed, Wilbur, who weighed in at about 25 pounds last month, can stay. But, according to his owner, he’s expected to weigh 50 pounds at full growth, so if he packs on more than that he’ll have a fat chance of making Little Falls his forever home.

“Who does the weighing?” Town Councilor Paul Smith wondered at the board’s meeting Tuesday.

The Town Council voted 5-2 (Suzanne Phillips and Ronald Shepard opposed) to send the matter to the Planning Board to conduct a full-blown public hearing and report back to the Town Council. No one from the public spoke Tuesday.

The pig issue was raised in October when Cassidy St. Jernquist of Pleasant Street in Little Falls asked the Town Council to help her family keep the year-old Juliana mini pig. The town’s code enforcement office had ruled Wilbur was a farm animal and violated the town’s current ordinance.

St. Jernquist said previously that Wilbur is a house pet and never has been on a farm. Her family acquired him at age 6 weeks.

Wilbur does have a backyard pen. Shepard said that he received a correspondence from a neighbor who had concerns about the closeness of the pig pen to the property line and about odor, flies and noise.

Councilors passed an amendment, brought forward by Hartwell, requiring that grain be stored to prevent rodents. An existing ordinance already regulates storage of manure and other wastes.

Besides mini-pigs, other small farm animals might include goats or sheep. Six chickens are now allowed on a lot of less than 20,000 square feet.

Meanwhile at Tuesday’s meeting, Hartwell was re-elected as Town Council chairman and Suzanne Phillips was elected vice chairwoman.

Newly elected last week as town councilors, Virginia Wilder Cross and Lee Pratt were administered the oath of office by Town Clerk Laurie Nordfors. They succeed two outgoing councilors, Marla Stelk and Sherrie Benner, who did not seek reelection.

“It has been my utmost pleasure to serve the Gorham community,” said Benner who served six years on the board. “We are in good hands with the new council.”

Stelk was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, Hartwell said.

Robert Lowell can be reached at 780-9089 or email rlowell@keepmecurrent.com

Gorham Town Clerk Laurie Nordfors, right, Tuesday administers oath of office to newly elected town councilors Lee Pratt and Virginia Wilder Cross.

Gorham Town Council Chairman Benjamin Hartwell presents a plaque Tuesday to outgoing councilor Sherrie Benner, who did not seek relection. Benner served six years on the board and was vice chairwoman.