Gorham 'kicks around' proposed pet pig policy

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A land use amendment would allow pet pig Wilbur to remain at his Gorham home.

GORHAM — The fate of a Gorham family’s pet mini-pig has been farmed out once again, this time to the Planning Board’s ordinance subcommittee.

At issue is whether the town will amend its land use code so Wilbur, a pet mini-pig, can stay put at his home in Little Falls.

The Town Council, after hearing from its own ordinance committee, in November forwarded a proposed code change allowing farm animals of less than 50 pounds to live on small lots to the Planning Board for its feedback. The Planning Board Monday voted 4-0 (Mike Richman and Brian Plowman absent) to hand off the matter to its own ordinance subcommittee for review.

“Let them kick it around,” Planning Board Chairman Edward Zelmanow said.

The matter surfaced in the fall when a neighbor reported Wilbur, who lives at a Pleasant Street home in Little Falls. Wilbur was found to be in violation of a town ordinance about farm animals on small residential lots and faced being booted from the property.

Cassidy St. Jernquist in October sought the Town Council’s help to keep her family’s pet that then weighed, she said, about 25 pounds and was about a year old. The family acquired Wilbur when he was 6 weeks old. Wilbur is a pet, not a farm animal, she said.

The Town Council proposed amending an existing ordinance regulating farm animals. Wording of a potential change could read,”One animal, under 50 pounds at maturity, may be kept on a lot area of under 40,000 square feet.”

An obese mini-pig could be banned in Gorham residential areas.

In the event of a complaint, printed planning staff notes indicate Code Enforcement Officer Freeman Abbott would be responsible for determining the weight of the animal. Asked Tuesday how a pig’s weight would be verified, Abbott said, “that’s a good question.”

Abbott wondered whether the town’s animal control officer might have ideas. “They don’t carry around scales, either,”Abbott said.

Possibly, a pet owner, following a complaint, could take the animal to a veterinarian where it could be weighed, he said.

Meanwhile Monday, a full agenda and late hour forced a postponement of a pre-application discussion of a two-phase facility proposed by Harvey’s Performance Company. That discussion will now be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Jan. 14, at the municipal center, 75 South St.

The precision toolmaker with a plant in Gorham Industrial Park is proposing a 76,887-square-foot building and 172 parking spaces at the vacant horse racing track on Narragansett Street. A second phase would be a 30,000-square-foot addition with 115 parking spots.

The Harvey proposal is in the town’s Narragansett Development District.

Agenda items also not heard and carried to the Jan. 14 agenda include two other pre-application discussions. One is for a four-duplex condominium development with eight units off Tow Path Road and another is an eight-lot cluster subdivision at 207 North Gorham Road.

Following a discussion at the Jan. 7 meeting with developer Jon Smith, the board also postponed to Jan. 14 further review of a request for special exception approval for a day care at 17 Railroad Ave., Unit D. It would accommodate up to 80 children.

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