Ordinance Restricts Animal Ownership In Residential Zones

Lakehurst Mayor Harry Robbins, left, presents the key to the borough to resident Bruce Margeson as the 2022 Citizen of the Year during a recent Lakehurst Council meeting. (Photo by Denise Maynard)

  LAKEHURST –Borough officials passed an ordinance that would prevent farms from developing in residential areas.

  Kieran Duffy and his wife have a number of farm animals such as goats, rabbits and pigs who live on their property located near Horicon Lake.  Duffy said they do not operate a business on their property.

  While the Duffys are grandfathered from the ordinance, they will not be allowed to replace any of their animals should they die or should they decide to sell them. The issue of what would happen if the animals are discovered to be pregnant was left unclear during the meeting though it was said that the matter required further investigation.

  Duffy questioned Mayor Harry Robbins and the members of council about the ordinance and how it would impact his homestead.

  He asked the mayor, “if I lose an animal, I’m not allowed to replace it? Is that what you are saying?”

  “That is correct,” the mayor replied. “Right now, you are grandfathered into having the number of animals that you have.”

  “If they all pass away then you can’t replace them,” Councilwoman Patricia Hodges clarified. “The intent of the ordinance is to prohibit farm animals because it is a residential area. There isn’t enough land support to support their wellbeing, generally speaking.”

  Duffy noted that since there was no ordinance to prohibit such animals, he and his wife proceeded with having the animals who he stressed were being well cared for. “We go to great lengths to keep the area clean, the animals fed and to maintain their wellbeing.

  “Otherwise, I understand completely (the point of the ordinance). I’m trying to maintain what I have and not lose all of them,” Duffy said. “Males and females have been penned together. I could put a stop to that from this point on, but I didn’t know this was coming. I do sell animals from time to time.”

Lakehurst Councilwoman Bernadette Dugan, left, joins Councilman Robert McCarthy, Borough Clerk Maryanne Capasso and Mary Harry Robbins. (Photo by Bob Vosseller)

  “Without this ordinance, any resident, anywhere in the town, could start a farm,” Council President Steven Oglesby noted. “That is the challenge. It would be another matter if it was on the outskirts of town but there isn’t an ordinance in place anyone could do exactly the same thing.”

  Duffy read a portion of the ordinance saying, “existing farm animals would not be permitted to breed.”

  Marlena McCann spoke in support of Duffy who is her neighbor. She also noted the need for a young animal to remain with its mother and not be prematurely separated.

  Resident Bruce Margeson also brought up to the governing body that if an animal on Duffy’s property was found to be pregnant, that it was a living creature and should be counted as part of Duffy’s existing animal population. “If the animal is pregnant, that means the animal is already on the property. It’s like a (human) baby. If that animal is pregnant, the calf or whatever, is already grandfathered in.”

  “Obviously if there is proof that the animal is pregnant, that will be taken into consideration. We’re going to use common sense here,” Borough Attorney Ian Goldman said.

  Goldman said if the animals were found to be pregnant contrary to the ordinance later on, “there will be an investigation and there will be consequences.”

  Margeson said there were simple ways to establish “how far along that animal is.”

  “Then it will be taken into consideration,” Mayor Robbins added. “It is unfortunate but if we do something and stretch it for you, then where would it end? Then the next person would have something. It would be a case of ‘you let him have it, why not I?’ It has to be across the board, it really does,” the mayor said.