Two Mancos trustees locked horns at their meeting Wednesday during a discussion on in-town livestock.
But after a two-hour conversation between citizens, board members and town staff, trustees decided two ordinances regulating the issue still weren’t ready to be put to a vote.
The issue, which has been discussed for about three years, is a passionate one for many in Mancos. Thirteen town citizens attended Wednesday’s meeting to express their opinions on livestock in town.
“We’re not ready to pass this as an ordinance,” Trustee Queenie Barz said. “We need to do more research on this.”
The ordinances, one regulating animals and another amending town zoning code to regulate livestock structures, were scheduled to come to a vote at the board’s next meeting, on Wednesday, March 23. But trustees decided to remove those items from that meeting’s agenda. The board will go over the ordinances at their monthly workshop meeting in April, after which they will determine their next move.
For trustee Will Stone, who keeps a calf in town, the discussion was personal. Stone excused himself from the discussion on the ordinance, but first stayed in the room, moving from the trustees’ bench to the spectator area.
During her time to speak on the ordinances, trustee Lorraine Becker raised concerns about Stone’s calf, saying such a large animal shouldn’t be raised in a small, in-town setting but rather in a herd with other calves. She said some Mancos citizens were unhappy with Stone because he sometimes walks the calf down the middle of the road, blocking the street for drivers. Becker also said she had noticed a stench around Stone’s home.
Stone responded, saying his calf is tender-footed, and he walks it down the middle of the road to keep it away from gravel that might hurt its hooves. Mayor Rachael Simbeck asked that Becker and Stone not argue. Trustee Matthew Baskin remarked that trustees often leave the room when they excuse themselves from a discussion.
Stone then left the room for the remainder of the discussion, telling Simbeck that “personal attacks should cease.”
Trustee Michele Black asked for compromise.
“This is an emotional issue for everyone here, but that can’t be the way that we approach this,” Black said. “We have to have a conversation about what will be healthy for the whole community.”
Town Administrator Andrea Phillips said town staff had mailed out a survey to 400 households in Mancos. Of the surveys that were completed and returned, a majority said they did not want larger animals, such as cows and horses, to be kept in town, Phillips said. Most survey respondents also said roosters should not be allowed in Mancos, she said.
Wednesday, though, opinions were divided on those points. Some citizens said roosters did not make good neighbors. Citizen Rayne Grant, however, said roosters should be allowed because it is unnatural to keep a flock of hens without a rooster. Grant also said there are ways to prevent roosters from making noise, such as a special “no-crow” collar.
Citizen Kevin Cook said he lives on S. Main Street, near a home with many animals on a small lot. He said passing ordinances regulating livestock would be in the best interest for the town.
Citizen Michael Looman said he loves Mancos, but the town sometimes smells like a stockyard. He said that he and his wife sometimes can’t enjoy their own backyard because of the smells from nearby livestock animals.
Several citizens expressed displeasure with the Planning and Zoning Committee. Some said committee members did not handle themselves professionally at their Feb. 23 meeting, during which the committee proposed changes to the ordinances.
Mayor Pro-Tem Todd Kearns also said he was unhappy with the committee.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed in (Planning and Zoning),” Kearns said.
Stone, speaking as a town citizen before he left the room, said he was “shocked and disappointed” by what the Planning and Zoning committee had done to the ordinances. He said the town was headed down the right road before the committee stepped in.
“It’s too similar to other municipalities,” Stone said of the policies. “That’s not why people move here, because it’s the same. ... Being afraid of animals isn’t the way to go. We’re missing out on something good for our kids.”
Baskin said the Planning and Zoning committee added too much to the ordinances. He said it would be easier to enact a smaller ordinance and add things to it gradually instead of passing a broad policy and having to remove aspects of it.
Moving backward in favor of a less-restrictive policy would be more difficult and take longer, Baskin said. The discussion isn’t a zero-sum argument, he added.
“No matter what we do, some people will be mad,” Baskin said. “But I’m optimistic that we will find something.”
Several citizens pointed to one slogan of Mancos — “Where the Old West still lives” — saying that cattle drives and living with livestock are parts of the mountain way of life.
Citizen Sherry Romero said she didn’t keep any animals except for indoor cats, but she didn’t favor the regulatory ordinances. She said she moved to Mancos from a big city to avoid structured urban life.
“Orderliness is not what attracts people to Mancos,” Romero said. “It’s the heart of our lifestyle. It’s very important that we get this right.”