Panel rules family must get rid of its alpacas

July 31, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

MERCERSBURG, PA. - The Mercersburg Zoning Hearing Board on Thursday decided that alpacas are livestock, not pets, and therefore do not belong within borough limits.

Joseph and Kelly Renner of 11 Linden Ave. bought the animals in May and moved them to a quarter-acre fenced-in area of their back yard.

Joseph Renner said Friday that he will appeal the board's decision to the Court of Common Pleas.

"I knew I was going to lose going in," he said of Thursday's hearing. "I spent $1,000 on legal fees last night and I'm not going to stop now."


The Renners argued at the hearing that they bought the alpacas as pets for their daughters, ages 7 and 11.

Borough Manager Arthur Speicher said Renner saw no need to check the ordinance before getting the alpacas since there already were horses and pheasants in the borough.

Zoning laws allow horses under certain conditions, Speicher said. The pheasants, which were kept by a borough resident, were grandfathered in before the ordinance was adopted, he said.

Joseph Renner said in an interview Friday that he plans to buy a miniature pig next week.

"Let's see if they like a pig better than alpacas," he said.

The borough allows miniature pigs, Speicher said. The former owner of the Renners' house kept a Vietnamese potbellied pig on the property, he said.

Renner said he will buy the pig out of spite for neighbors who complained about his alpacas.

"I'm a spiteful man when they try to take pets away from my kids," he said.

Thursday's hearing was attended by about 20 residents. The Mercersburg Borough Council and Zoning Hearing Board each were represented by lawyers.

Speicher doesn't know how much the representation will cost.

"I haven't gotten bills yet, but an anonymous donor offered to give us $500 toward our legal fees," he said. The donor also offered to match another $500 that someone else puts up, he said.

The three members of the Zoning Hearing Board have 45 days to officially notify the Renners that they are in violation. The Renners, in turn, have 30 days from receipt of the notification to appeal in court.

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