Lynnwood considers relaxing its rules for keeping goats

LYNNWOOD — If all goes as planned, Anne Smeester might have a goat mansion in her back yard before the year is out.

Smeester, who lives near Lynndale Park in Lynnwood, is one of several neighbors who’s lobbied the City Council to allow pet goats in city limits.

The current rules only permit goats if the owners have nearly a half-acre of land, said Councilman Ian Cotton, who is leading the effort to change the rules.

He’d like the city codes to allow miniature goats, such as pygmy goats, under the same rules as dogs.

“What I saw was a group of Lynnwood residents who were really passionate about sustainability,” Cotton said. “They came to City Council and said, ‘Hey, we really want to do this as part of sustainable living in an urban environment.’”

The idea came up again during a council retreat and is now headed to the Community Development Department, Cotton said. It will have to go through the planning commission, including a time for public comment, before going back to council. He hopes the council can vote on a new ordinance in the next couple of months.

Goats help clean people’s yards because they eat weeds and invasive plants, Cotton said. Some also can be milked, and they provide companionship for people and other pets.

“I think they’re kind of cute,” he said. “They’re not a full-blown piece of livestock.”

Miniature goats are allowed with a license in the city of Seattle. In unincorporated Snohomish County, goats are allowed as long as they’re not running loose. Some local cities, including Edmonds, Marysville and Mountlake Terrace, allow goats if owners follow certain requirements, such as minimum acreage. In Everett, goat owners need a special license that includes an on-site inspection from an animal control officer. Some cities don’t allow unneutered bucks.

In Marysville, it’s against the rules for goats to “be ridden or paraded in the city in a manner that could endanger people or property.”

Smeester, 45, and her husband, Greg, moved to Lynnwood 15 years ago, and raised three children, the youngest of whom is almost grown, she said.

She’s studying sustainable agriculture at Edmonds Community College. She’s kept chickens, bees and ducks, and she tends a vegetable garden. She likes goats for their mild temperament, she said.

“I need goats so I can have milk and complete the cycle of our food,” she said.“They’re so cute.”

Last year, Smeester knocked on the doors of some houses in her neighborhood that had well-kept gardens. She asked the families if they’d be interested in going with her to council to talk about goats. She got a few takers.

Smeester’s husband was on the fence himself until they took a trip to Vashon Island.

“He drank fresh goat milk right there from the jar, and he was totally sold,” she said.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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