A Roswell business owner won his quest to keep sheep and goats on property in the city limits, in spite of some initial opposition from neighbors.
One person from a neighboring property said she was satisfied with the city’s decisions, but another remains upset.
“Is it better? No. Is it acceptable? No. Am I happy? No,” said Tom Jennings. He owns property and a new building across the street from Custom Construction and Roofing LLC, which is on Wool Bowl Circle in northeast Roswell, near Garden Avenue and College Boulevard.
Jennings’ objections fall into four main categories: That the property is unsightly because of all the equipment and building materials stored on it, that new permits allowing farm animals in an industrial area should not allowed, that there are potential environmental problems from a business storing a large quantity of chemicals and building materials, and that the city appears to have treated Custom Construction differently than other property owners, perhaps because the company does work for the city.
A city manager strongly countered the idea that the business was treated more favorably than other property owners.
Jennings said, however, that when he constructed the new building at 2 Petro Drive that is now rented by Rich Glo Products Inc., he had to meet all sorts of city requirements and codes, including for landscaping, because the city wanted to improve Roswell and that area.
“Then they (Custom Construction) come in behind me and start a junkyard,” he said.
The business property is not operating a commercial salvage operation. However, storage of equipment and materials on the three lots owned by the company and its partners is occurring.
According to city documents, Brandon Arnold applied for the special use permit sometime before May. Originally, he requested permission not only to keep the sheep and goats on the property for weed and vegetation control but also to be able to operate a recycling operation.
The matter was tabled after a May 23 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, but approved at the June 27 meeting, according to Planning Director Bill Morris.
“They were approved for the sheep and goats,” said Planning Director Bill Morris, “up to four critters.”
The portion of the permit application having to do with the recycling operation was withdrawn.
“It was decided that is not really what they were doing,” Morris said.
City documents from Arnold and his lawyer indicate that he was storing and sometime reusing company materials rather than running a recycling or salvage operation open to the public.
Morris added that Arnold has complied or is in the process of complying with other permit requirements, including controlling weeds and debris near fence lines, erecting an 8-foot fence around the property and creating a berm to reduce chances of chemical run-offs.
“We will have to check periodically and make sure that they (keep in compliance),” he said.
Jennings was one of four people speaking against the permit application at the May 23 meeting. He said his complaints about the animals and state of the property are what prompted the city to get the business to apply for the permit.
But Jennings said he isn’t assuaged by the city’s decisions.
“It puts up an 8-foot fence, so it hides and screens what is going on,” he said. He added that photos he took before the permit application shows the business has items on the property that, he said, properly belong in a landfill.
“I love the mayor for allowing old buildings to be demolished in his efforts to improve the city,” Jennings said, “but this is going in the wrong direction.”
He added that he can understand that livestock is allowed to be kept nearby for short periods of time for a livestock auction operation that has been grandfathered into codes, but that he does not think it is appropriate to issue new special permits for farm animals in the area, where most properties are zoned light industrial.
Jennings said neighboring property owners and users have a right to be concerned because of the potential for animal and insect infestations and chemical run-offs from old building materials. He points out that nearby are mobile home parks, the Spring River, Loveless Park, and bike and walking trail, and the Roswell Refuge Thrift Store, which sits on property owned by Chaves County.
Cindy Wilson, executive director with the Roswell Refuge, originally spoke at the May 23 Planning and Zoning about some concerns. But she said she has since talked with representatives of Custom Construction. The issues, which she characterized as mainly having to do with neighborliness and communication, have been resolved, she said.
“We personally like the sheep, and I think it is very green of them to use sheep and goats rather than chemicals to control weeds.”
She did say that once a ram escaped onto the Refuge property, but that Refuge staff were able to pen it.
Flooding does occur in the area after heavy rains, flooding the Refuge property, she said, but she added that she does not think that is the fault of Custom Construction. She also said that the company volunteered to install rubber stoppers under the Refuge doors so that water will not come into storage or retail areas.
Morris said that no appeals were filed and that the permit is “good to go,” but Jennings said the process has given him “heartburn.”
“We have mechanisms in place to make sure that we are all on equal footing,” he said, “but it doesn’t appear those were followed here.”
Morris categorically denies that any favoritism was shown, although he acknowledges that the construction company frequently does demolition work for the city.
“We treat pretty much everybody the same,” he said. “The idea that we gave them any preferential treatment is wrong.”
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.