By JENNIFER HILLS • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
CHERRY VALLEY – In a unanimous vote, the Village Board Monday evening approved a ban on farm animals, excepting “fowl and chickens,” within village limits “to protect the health and welfare of residents.”
The law, Local Law 1 of 2019, notably allows property owners to apply for a waiver by the Village Board “if required for religious purposes,” which was added to the law after some village residents accused trustees of using the law to discriminate against the Amish.
Several people attending the meeting said during the public commentary period that the law was not clear on which “religious purposes” would be approve.
“If an Amish person were to ask for a waiver to own a horse for pulling his buggy, would a waiver be granted?” asked resident Andy Minnig.
Village Attorney E. Hyde Clarke replied, “Yes,” and said a person denied the waiver could sue the village.
Lew Ward, whose horse, Romeo, will be grandfathered in the law, was surprised to learn at the meeting that after Romeo dies, he will not be able to own a horse. “The mayor told me in the previous meeting I would be able to keep the next horse,” he said after the meeting.
Other people attending the meeting praised the trustees for the law.
JoAnn Guido thanked the mayor, her husband, and his colleagues, saying, “A farm animal brings with it some health hazards in a small area…Wanting to keep a large farm animal on a small amount of land is somewhat reprehensible.”