Ixonia

IXONIA -- The Ixonia Town Board this week validated the decision of its plan commission and voted unanimously to deny a request from a town resident to keep emotional support goats and geese on her property at N8263 County Highway E.

The board voted 5-0 to deny the request from Sara Manzke for a variance "to allow farm-type animals on less than two acres of land." A conditional use permit for the same reason was also denied.

The next step for Manzke would be to take her concern to the Jefferson County Planning and Zoning Commission, which holds the ultimate authority in the matter.

In recent weeks, the town's planning commission developed the recommendation it took to the town board this week, despite many town residents being in support of Manzke's position.

"It gets me right here," commission member Don Loppnow, said as the planning commission denied her request. "But I have to follow what's here," he said as he tapped the zoning law document in front of him.

At issue is a zoning law prohibiting farm-type animals to reside on less than two acres of land. Manzke owns 0.9 acres on County Highway E in the town of Ixonia.

Manzke has a debilitating, chronic disease. In searching for a holistic way to treat the symptoms of the disease, she came across Nigerian Dwarf mini goats.

About the size of a small dog, the goats were obtained at a young age to "ensure their friendliness and therapeutic qualities," according to a letter from Manzke on Feb. 6.

"The calm, therapeutic nature of the animals helps me," she said, "so I don't require anti-anxiety medications, anti-depressants or addictive pain medications."

Manzke said when she purchased the property last year, she was aware of the Fair Housing Act, which allowed for support animals as long as they were not considered exotic animals. She had a pair of geese at the time, which she said could easily be considered fowl or poultry much like chickens and should be allowable.

When she found out mini goats could be a holistic alternative to medications, she purchased four young goats so that two could go with her when she went somewhere, and two could stay together on the property.

When she is feeling anxiety or stress, the goats are trained to lean into her to relieve her stress. She said taking care of them also helps keep her anxiety at bay.

If Manske is to be able to keep her goats and geese, the county would have to change some its zoning rules.

Jefferson County Zoning Director, Matt Zangl, talked with the Daily Times Wednesday about the future of the matter.

"I did receive the notification that Sara was officially denied at the town level," Zangl said. "I will talk with Sara and see what route she wants to take moving forward. To accommodate her request or allow her animals, she would need the variance and a conditional use permit. Changing the zoning to a different zoning district would be an option, but brings with it other problems as well."

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