Beacon Falls, Naugatuck residents team up to alter livestock rules

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By Andreas Yilma Citizen’s News

Beacon Falls and Naugatuck residents now have a new set of livestock regulations to help guide them with animals.

Cody Muth, a resident of Burton Road in Beacon Falls, initially went to Town Hall to get the regulations changed after zoning enforcement officer Mike Mormile filed a cease-and-desist order against Muth’s home and animals in March 2021.

Beacon Falls’ Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved in its Feb. 17 meeting to amend Article I of the zoning regulations by creating Section 8.4.5 – accessory residential poultry and livestock regulations.

The new rules include a property must be greater or equal to three-quarters of an acre to keep livestock as an accessory residential use. A property which meets the minimum size lot may keep up to one livestock unit. One livestock unit is defined as one horse, cow or donkey, two sheep or two goats and 16 chickens or 16 rabbits. A property of 1 acre or more may keep up to one livestock unit and 0.5 livestock units for every additional acre.

The PZC took a section from the current regulations and added it to the new rules: horses or ponies may be kept on a lot of less than 5 acres provided it contains an area not less than 40,000 square feet for each animal and the total number does not exceed three horses.

The PZC set the effective date as March 21 for the new regulations.

Cody and Kristina Muth’s son, Waylon, and their goat, Hank, snuggle at their property on Burton Road in Beacon Falls. Contributed

Town Planner Savannah-Nicole Villalba said the commission cannot grandfather residents who never followed the previous regulations.

Muth, who has a wife, Kristina, and 3-year old son, Waylon, said this is a step in the right direction.

“I enjoy working with the town on this issue,” he said. “Beacon Falls has a small-town feel and I’d like to keep it that way.”

He said he will continue to work with the commission on writing a new set of farming regulations.

“I think raising children with livestock is important and it would help a lot with problems in the world today, to teach kids to have responsibility,” he said.

Naugatuck’s Zoning Commission closed its hearing in January for a change in regulations for backyard poultry. Burgess Rocky Vitale previously said he asked the panel to review revisions for keeping poultry after residents asked him to bring the idea forward.

The commission voted 4-1 to approve the text change for accessory use of backyard poultry for a residential property from 3 acres to at least half an acre. The regulation defines backyard poultry as chickens, ducks or rabbits. Roosters aren’t permitted. Backyard poultry are not allowed on multifamily or mixed-use properties.

Some standards for the new rules include no more than five chickens for each single-family, half-acre dwelling; coops housing backyard poultry must be in the rear yard only and at least 20 feet from side and rear boundary lines; and there must be no outdoor slaughtering.

Permits will not be required, but all owners of backyard poultry must submit a written statement to zoning enforcement officer Ed Carter certifying compliance with these regulations.

The commission set the effective date as Monday for the new regulations.

The borough has 7,256 single-family properties; 73, or 10%, sit on 3 acres; 1,720, or about 24%, sit on at least a half acre, Carter noted.

Zoning Commission Chairman Richard Cool said the new livestock regulations were overdue.

“With it being 3 acres, it really didn’t have a lot of people in the community able to have the chickens,” Cool said. “We had a request that people really wanted to have that opportunity, so by limiting it to half an acre, about 1,700 more families can have chickens.”