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County leaders enter zoning talks

August 15, 2011

County leaders are asking staff to look into complaints raised by residents about livestock near their homes. Currently, residents on half acre or larger lots are permitted to keep livestock and the board said it was hesitant to disallow that privilege. Photo courtesy Metrocreativegraphics.com

County leaders weighed in on the Planning Department’s move to update local zoning ordinances.
On Tuesday, the board reviewed five bullet points on local zoning laws, ranging from keeping animals to producing wind energy and working from home.
Earlier this year, Inyo County hired a consultant to review the current zoning ordinance and recommend updates and changes. The report the consultant delivered included many sections the county does not currently have on the books, such as rules and regulations for adult entertainment enterprises, that the board opted to leave out of the county code.
What the county is looking at are refinements to basic ordinances pertaining to housing and keeping livestock.
Currently, any property a half-acre or larger is permitted to keep livestock.
County Planning Director Josh Hart recommended the county keep that portion of the zoning code as is, noting that there are occasional complaints from residents neighboring properties with livestock.
According to Hart, the county has heard from residents who don’t own animals who have neighbors that keep horses, cows or other livestock on the fence line bordering the two properties.
The board discussed the possibility of requiring a minimum property line distance for animal enclosures, similar to the four-foot berth required for dwelling structures, to reduce complaints.
Fourth District Supervisor Marty Fortney said such an update may cause problems for organizations such as the Big Pine Saddle Club, which is adjacent to a residential neighborhood.
“I don’t want to talk about disallowing animals on these lots, but I think a setback may be in order because we’re talking about a problem with cattle and odors over half-acre lots, we’re not talking about super large areas,” Third District Supervisor Rick Pucci said.
The board directed Hart to meet with the local Planning Commission and Agricultural Commission to find a solution.
Fortney asked that animals such as llamas and alpacas, which are not currently listed as allowable animals on a half-acre lot, be included in the new zoning ordinance.
The board also discussed where and how residents are permitted to erect wind mills for energy production or decoration.
The consultant recommended, and Hart and the board agreed, that wind energy windmills should require a Conditional Use Permit before being erected.
The board agreed that windmills are generally large and are not always quiet. Requiring a Conditional Use Permit will give neighbors an opportunity to comment on the proposed erection of a windmill, and allow the county to ensure that height limits, setbacks and fall distance provisions are met before the structure is built.
“The height requirement is currently 35 feet, but windmills are generally larger,” Hart said.
Second District Supervisor Susan Cash also pointed out that the county zoning code prohibits “commercial breeding and slaughter” in residential areas, and asked Hart to write in an exemption for dog breeding and raising chickens for eggs.

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