Pocopson, PA Moves to Limit Alpaca Numbers

POCOPSON — A township resident, Nora Margetich, asked officials during last month’s township supervisors’ meeting to write a letter of recommendation to the Chester County Zoning Hearing Board offering support in allowing her to maintain a herd of Alpacas on her Lenape Road property.
Margetich, along with her attorney, made the plea at the February 27 Board of Supervisors’ meeting after being cited by the township for housing a herd of 20 Alpacas on her 2.2 acre parcel.
Under the township’s current land-use ordinance, Margetich would not be able to keep the animals, however, her attorney cited that because animals were consistently housed there by the previous owners, it falls under a special nonconforming land use provision.
At  Monday’s meeting, township Planning Commission Chair, Gary Summers, noted only 3/4 of an acre of usable pasture on the property as opposed to the original report of 1.5 acres. In February, Margetich asked supervisors to recommend she be able to keep 12 Alpacas on the 1.5 acre parcel. After inspecting the property, Summers said the other 3/4 of an acre consisted of a row of pens used to separate some of the animals. He told supervisors that his biggest concern is for the animals and the “density of the herd.”
Supervisors and other township officials referred to extensive research and expert opinion recommending the number of Alpacas that could be safely housed on the property.
Although officials agreed that Alpacas are one of the most eco-friendly herd animals on the planet, Supervisors “reluctantly” agreed to recommend to the zoning hearing board there be a maximum of 4-5 of single sex or geldings allowed on the property to dissuade any breeding.  Supervisors’ will also ask for an annual inspection of the property by the township’s code enforcement officer (at the owner’s expense), an established manure plan and any variance granted to run with the applicant – not on the land.
Supervisor Ricki Stumpo stated she felt Margetich should be able to keep 6 Alpacas in order help soften the  impact of having to give up so many of her pets. Stumpo said she based her request on the fact there has never been a complaint against the owner and the Large Animal Protection agency and a reputable veterinarian both testified in favor of the animals’ living conditions.
Supervisors’ Chair Steve Conary noted that the decision was not based upon the present conditions, but those that could occur over time, such as contamination of local wells and storm water management issues.
Summers reassured officials that  Southeast llama Rescue, a reputable organization which works across the country,  is prepared to foster the animals.