Posted by: Patricia Salkin | January 8, 2020

MA Land Court Finds Pet Goats Caused Residential Property to be Categorized as an Animal Husbandry Use

This post was authored by Matthew Loeser, Esq.

In this case, the Raeslys’ appealed a decision by the ZBA, affirming the Building Inspector’s determination that the Raeslys were using the property known as 109 Hobart Street, Danvers, Massachusetts for animal husbandry.

 On appeal, the Raeslys contended that the bylaw was inapplicable to their goats because it only applied to animals kept for animal husbandry uses, and Dean and Deluca (the goats) were kept as pets. The relevant bylaw defined “animal husbandry” as “the raising and keeping of animals, as an accessory use to a single family dwelling, where all accessory uses, such as barns, pens, cages, water/feeding stations and waste storage/disposal areas shall be located at least fifteen feet from an abutting residential lot line.” The Raeslys claimed that “the raising and keeping of animals,” which was not further defined, meant the breeding and raising of domestic animals for commercial use, such as meat, milk, or eggs. Accepting that definition, “animal husbandry” would exclude the goats, which were neutered and not used for any commercial purposes. The ZBA’s position was that the bylaw did not address how the animals were used, but instead regulated the keeping of large or disruptive animals outdoors on residential property in order to prevent nuisances created by such animals.

The court noted that the bylaw unambiguously identified “goats” as included in the category of animals not permitted in the residential-1 zoning district under the bylaw. As such, the ZBA’s interpretation of the bylaw was found reasonable and valid. Accordingly, the court held that the animal husbandry bylaw was not unreasonable as it had been applied by the Building Inspector to the property.

Raesly v Boughner, 2019 WL 5842623 (MA Land CT. 11/7/2019)

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