Petition to change Wenatchee ordinance code 10.48.060
Petition to change Wenatchee ordinance code 10.48.060
Hello, my name is Jadyn Wertz and I am a member of the Wenatchee FFA chapter. I moved to Wenatchee in July of 2017 as an incoming freshman. I had a hard time fitting in and making friends at Wenatchee High School; however, I have come to find my school family by joining the Wenatchee FFA Chapter. I decided to raise goats at my home through my chapter so I could participate in the county fairs and the livestock auction. I chose goats because I believed they were considered small farm animals and allowed by city code.
Recently, my family received a letter in the mail that we are violating city code 10.48.060. A code that was written specifically to allow 4-H and FFA members, like me, to participate in fair and club activities. This code allows four small farm animals in city limits. I would like to request that code 10.48.060 be revised to allow further opportunities for FFA and 4-H members. Chickens and rabbits are not the only small scale farm animal breeds and species.
Surrounding areas like East Wenatchee and Seattle have revised their codes in order to accommodate for this. In Seattle, they now allow the raising of dwarf goats and pot belly pigs. East Wenatchee states in code 17.72.200 that “it is the intent of this section to allow an individual to keep the following type of animals in residential zones: small farm animals, large farm animals, domestic fowl, potbelly pigs, and miniature goats as part of a 4H, Future Farmers of America, or similar program…”.
Let me tell you about my experiences in FFA.
My freshman year, I started to become involved in FFA. I went to all the meetings, I participated in competitions, and I fell in love with the organization. That first year I competed in two CDEs (career development events), livestock evaluation and a first year member event. In livestock we placed 10th in the state. That same year, my advisor came to me asking if I’d be interested in raising livestock for the county fair. I decided to raise goats. In the spring, I got two market goats and chickens. I raised my goats through the summer and brought them to auction at the NCW and Chelan County fairs. At the NCW fair, both my goats received a blue ribbon and one placed Reserve Grand Champion. At the Chelan county fair, I placed with a Blue ribbon and a call back ribbon in showing and fitting.
My sophomore year, I became even more involved in FFA. Early on, I became a part of the officer team as an “in-club officer”. That year, I competed in six CDEs. My 3 highlights include winning a banner at Extemp Speaking Sub Districts, winning 1st in Cattle Judging with my team, and placing 4th in the state with my team through Milk Quality and Products. That year, I also decided I wanted to try raising dairy goats, specifically Nigerian Dwarfs. On March 11th, I drove to Quincy, WA to pick up two 3 day old Nigerian Dwarf goats. Their names are Persephone and Demeter. I raised these two beautiful girls on bottles for five months. They came into the house, slept in my lap, and truly turned into my children. About a month later, I picked up my two market goats for the fair. At the fair, I once again earned Reserve Grand Champion at the NCW fair as well as blue ribbons at the Chelan County fair. They were later sold in auction. This year, I had also decided to show my dairy goats. At both Chelan County and NCW, Demeter placed Grand Champion and Persephone placed third. I also placed third in the fitting and showing class.
My junior year was definitely an interesting one. I started the year by being elected as the Wenatchee FFA 2019-2020 Treasurer. I joined the Running start program and am now looking to graduate with an associates in math and science. I joined teams for four CDEs. In early March, my team once again placed 1st in Cattle Judging. Unfortunately, after this, the COVID-19 virus ended the FFA competition season. Back in January, my FFA advisor contacted me about a market goat she had. His mom wouldn’t let him nurse. He wasn’t getting milk and was going to die. I had experience with bottle feeding goats, so I took him off her hands. On January 14th I brought him home with me. I named him Chevy. He was about 5 days old when he came home with me. He was weak, hungry, and tired. I took him inside and warmed up a bottle of milk. It took him a while to figure it out, but he finally took to the bottle and was eating on a planned and healthy schedule. Chevy began to catch up and is growing on track of a normal goat his age. Chevy probably wouldn’t be alive today if I hadn't taken him in. To this day, he is my spoiled baby. Everytime I’m outside, he's climbing in my lap and laying on me. I began to love this goat and I wasn’t sure how I’d let go of him at auction. In July, We got the news that fairs will not be happening this year. I decided to keep Chevy because I had grown so attached.
I am not sure what my senior year will look like this coming fall. None of us are. There is so much uneasiness, anger, and fear within our community during these undesirable conditions. We all have different ways of coping with stress. I find relief in my animals. There is so much unsureness for me between senior year, graduation, and college; however, I always know that no matter how rough it gets, I can always rely on my goats. Now, I am scared that my goats are being taken from me. I have invested time, money, and tears into these goats. I have raised them on bottles as if they were my own children since they were days old. They’ve become more than livestock. More than pets. These goats are my family.
Over the past three years, I have spent 35+ hours per week working with my animals. I feed them, clean the pens, take them on walks, and play with them. I run with them on leashes through the neighborhood. I let kids and neighbors pet the goats. People even bring me vegetable scraps for them to eat. There's also many people in the area that just like talking to me about my goats. People will ask to take pictures, how old they are, what their names are, why I raise goats, etc. I’ve even had members of the community approach me and tell me that what I’m doing is truly amazing and to never stop. Goats are also herd animals. They need a companion inorder to be healthy. They cannot live by themselves, there needs to be another goat with them. Just two or three goats, is enough to keep a goat from having symptoms similar to depression.
As you can see, FFA and agriculture as a whole has provided me with many opportunities. It has taught me responsibility and leadership. It has taught me skills I will need in the future as I tackle vet school. Raising goats has taught me skills I can never learn in school. I learned to manage money and raise another living animal. This level of responsibility, management, and hard work has helped make me a better person.
As far as public health and safety goes, miniature goats cause no issues. They are the size of a medium sized dog. They are smaller than large breed dogs and just as intelligent. They fertilize the land. They provide weed control and remove fire hazard. The City of Wenatchee itself released 300 goats in order to control fire hazards. They don’t make noise nearly as often as dogs bark. Goats have no negative effects on the community or the environment, so why prohibit them?
An agricultural town such as Wenatchee should be openly willing to aid and provide opportunities to students and members of the 4-H and FFA communities. We live in a constantly growing and expanding world. Who is going to be the next farmer? The next rancher? The next agriculturalist? Who will provide the food and materials we need to survive? In 1930, E.M. Tiffany Wrote the FFA Creed. He began each paragraph of the creed with the sentence “I believe in the future of agriculture”. 4-H and FFA members are the future of agriculture. With laws like 10.48.060 in place, these future agriculturalists are being held back. This will only hurt our town. All it takes is a small revision in the town codes to allow students to raise miniature livestock animals like goats and potbelly swine.
I, as well as hundreds of thousands of students across the city, state, nation, and globe believe in the future of agriculture. So should you.
Thank you for your time.
To the City Council and Mayor of Wenatchee,
My name is Albert Wertz, DO and my wife is Janise Wertz. We have lived in Wenatchee for 3 years. We moved here after being recruited by Confluence Health. I am a Psychiatrist and my wife is a Special Education Teacher for Wenatchee School District. She is now working diligently with the school district on trying to figure out how they are going to implement online learning for special needs children during this time of COVID. I am in the process of developing a private practice and diligently serving the mental health needs of the wenatchee area. We have 2 children that have fallen in love with Wenatchee, both our children will be at the high school. Our daughter is in FFA and has excelled! She will be a senior this year. She received her state degree, won multiple competitions and has raised and sold goats at the Chelan and Douglas county fairs since we have moved here. This experience has led to aspirations of becoming a veterinarian. This brings me to why I am writing to you all.
On July 31st, we received a city official notice that one of our neighbors reported us for violating city code 10.48.060. Stating that we were in possession of large farm animals and all should be removed immediately. We have Nigerian Dwarf Goats, they are not large, and most people do not classify them as such. In fact, they are as small as dogs and many cities have come to accept them as domesticated animals. We have one castrated male boer goat who is fully grown now and is smaller than my dog. Seattle is a fantastic example where the www.goatjusticeleague.org has successfully lobbied and approved for pot belly pigs and small breed goats or castrated male goats to be allowed on lots smaller than ½ acre. Castrated male goats only grow to be half the size of full grown goats and are often used as family pets or companion animals. East Wenatchee city code has an allowance for goats based on size and that males be castrated. Throughout our city we have grandfathered in properties where the right to farm act protects horses, lamas, sheep and much more from being removed. We are an agricultural city, whether some people like it or not. Agriculture is in this town's blood and heritage. Even if a development comes in and declares everything residential, if someone wants to have a small domesticated animal, that poses no harm or damage to property or human health, what’s wrong with that?
We have raised goats on our property for 3 years, no one has complained until now. We did not realize we were in violation of any city ordinance as our goats are considered small farm animals by FFA standards and county fair standards. If anything, we have gotten many compliments. People walking the canal love to say hi to the goats, children love to visit with them, and since we have domesticated them by bottle feeding them from birth and taking good care of them, I have started using them in patient therapy. They are now very effective emotional support animals. Our daughter has trained them and walked them throughout our neighborhood and residents would come out, pet them, feed them table scraps and love on them. They produce manure for compost, of which we manage discretely and use in our raised bed gardens. We also have chickens, of which we keep in a large closed coop away from others. So why is someone complaining now?
The truth is, we have a neighbor that is making every effort to harm us in any way she can because of a property line dispute she lost. Initially, she claimed she owned 15 feet of our property. We hired a surveyor and proved her wrong, then decided to erect a fence. Everything went downhill from there. She harassed me in my driveway, I have video footage. She degraded and cussed me out on my own property. She harassed my construction crew that were building a fence and retaining wall. She burned a fire in her backyard during a burn ban, got caught and cited, then blames me. She called 3 separate city agencies to prevent me from building my fence and retaining wall on my property, all of which were not required. I invited all agencies and they all cleared my projects. Because I just wanted this to stop, I filed a no contact and harassment order against her, but the lower court refused to see it because she still claimed there was a property dispute. I had the land surveyed, proved her wrong and her husband agreed I was right. The case was kicked up to superior court and I just dropped it because my construction project was complete. Now she has recruited the city code enforcement to try and force my daughters FFA projects from our property when they were causing no harm. This was even after we moved them away from her property line. The whole point of building the retaining wall and fence, of which I spent $15,000 doing, was to reduce conflict with her by moving a shed, animals, and erecting a fence to maintain property lines. I even spent an additional $400 for the survey to prove the property lines. Her husband and I are friends, we text and talk often, but he states he is unable to reason with her. I am sorry to go into this amount of detail, but I believe it is important to understand the nature of her complaint. We are very friendly with all of our other neighbors and have zero issues. We all communicate and make accommodations for each other. Except for one.
I am asking you, the city council and mayor, to help better define the farm animal ordinance in Wenatchee, as Seattle and even East Wenatchee have done. We are a proud agriculture community, and as long as people take great care of their animals, it can be very educational and therapeutic to allow farm animals to be raised in town whether properties are grandfathered in or not. Making an allowance in the city ordinance for small goats, castrated male goats and poultry up to 8 can build character of our youth, promote home food production/ recycling, and be therapeutic, especially in this time of stress with COVID. I have provided links to other nearby cities’ zoning codes: East Wenatchee Code 17.72.200, Chelan Code 17.04.065, Moses Lake Code 18.20.160, Cashmere Code 17.58.085. These cities have provided clear, more specific guidance around small farm animals. I believe that together we could work toward a code revision that would best serve our community, especially our 4H and FFA students who work so hard to raise their animals.
I would love to discuss with you further, any questions you may have. My neighbors supporting me are willing to as well. If necessary, we can discuss further with local FFA leadership, of how FFA activities and farm animals can improve character and education of our youth.
Thank you for your time in reading this letter.
Albert Wertz, DO
My family has sent the above letters to the city mayor and council members, if you feel so compelled, we are asking that you support this petition by signing and sharing it with your fellow neighbors. Let's make Wenatchee better, together.