FARMVILLE: Aurora City Council is considering a proposal to allow pot-bellied pigs in residential areas

AURORA | A group of members of Aurora City Council gave a first thumbs up Thursday for a proposal that could allow residents to raise pot-bellied pigs in residential areas of the city.

Members of a city committee dealing with housing, development and neighborhood issues unanimously agreed to initiate a “community engagement” process that would allow Aurors to raise pigs and possibly other livestock in the many areas of the city that are intended for living in residential areas.

Currently, pigs are only allowed in the rare zones that are considered “rural-rural” and allow certain agricultural activities in single-family homes. The proposal, discussed on May 6, suggests adding pigs to the section of the city law that enables urban agriculture and allows residents to keep creatures such as chickens and bees in an urban setting.

The most recent pig-like conversation was the result of an email a resident sent to city officials in March to confirm current zoning regulations that prohibit the ownership of pigs in residential areas.

“I am deeply concerned about the ban on pot-bellied pigs in Aurora for those who wish to keep them as family members rather than livestock,” the March 19 message said. “This is just another form of speciesism and very discriminatory.”

Officials from the city’s animal services department oppose proposed changes to city animal husbandry rules and cite concerns about noise, inadequate veterinary care and housing capacity if pigs are to be allowed into residential areas of the city.

Co-workers cited data claiming that the noise of a pig screeching can dwarf the decibel levels of a supersonic jet. They also highlighted concerns that pigs could damage property due to their root instinct.

“With all the enforcement problems and the potential for pigs to weigh hundreds of pounds, the staff do not recommend pushing the change,” the staff wrote in city documents.

Anthony Youngblood, director of the city’s animal services department, said an oversized number of new pig farmers abandon their animals after about two years when the creatures start to exceed 100 pounds and become more aggressive. He underlined that there are no “mini”, “teacup” or “micro” breeds of pigs; These are marketing terms used to trick people into buying piglets that will eventually reach triple-digit weights, he said.

“Unfortunately, these are also the most common reasons we see pigs needing a new home. 95% are getting much bigger than expected,” wrote the animal service staff. “… There are unrealistic expectations of a 20-pound full-grown pig.”

One of the most common domesticated pigs, the Vietnamese potbelly, can weigh up to 200 pounds, grow 15 inches, and grow to 3 feet long. It can take nearly five years for the animals to reach a mature weight.

Youngblood’s team studied how dozens of cities in Colorado allow pigs of various capacities. In Denver, pot-bellied pigs are allowed after a hearing and approval process. in Englewood the animals are completely forbidden; In Lakewood they are allowed in certain zones, but residents are limited to three pigs per home and animals cannot exceed 70 pounds each.

Several other communities, including Westminster, Northglenn, and Commerce City, also place weight restrictions on pigs, although staff raised concerns about enforcement in Aurora.

“Many weight-restricted jurisdictions are turning away from the weight limit or forcing the owner to underfeed the pig in order to maintain a certain weight,” the staff wrote in city documents.

Nonetheless, councilors agreed to hold additional public meetings to gauge the community’s desire for residential pig ownership. The talks will likely cover the possibility of allowing residents to raise other livestock, including ducks and goats.

“When we are discussing a possible permit for livestock, why are we restricting ourselves to pigs only?” Alison Coombs said. “… If we want to open this discussion, maybe we should have a broader discussion.”

Councilor Juan Marcano, who represents Central and Dense Division IV, said he feared some of the city’s more densely packed subdivisions might not be able to accommodate livestock, but admitted that there was ample space for pigs to roam and root in other areas .

“I have concerns, particularly with some of the behaviors described, in pigs,” he said. “… Places like (Havana Heights) I think would be suitable for this type of animal if the residents obviously wanted it. I’m fine when I push a discussion forward. It doesn’t hurt to talk about it. “

Staff did not discuss when public gatherings or comments on pigs and other livestock in the city could begin.

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