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Orange County decides: goats are a no go in residential neighborhoods

Orlando Sentinel logoOrlando Sentinel 6/12/2019 Stephen Hudak
a brown and white dog standing in front of a goat © Stephen Hudak / Orlando Sentinel

After repeatedly asking Orange County leaders to explain why he couldn’t keep goats as pets, Mohammad Ali finally got an answer to chew on.

Permitted as pets in Seattle, goats aren’t allowed in residential neighborhoods here because they are considered livestock, lumped in with cows and sheep, according to Orange County code and a letter from County Administrator Byron Brooks, tasked by Mayor Jerry Demings to respond to queries Ali posed at county commission meetings.

© Joe Burbank / Orlando Sentinel

Ali had hoped for a softer definition of goats so he could bring back two pets “Brownie” and “Happy” to live at his family’s 8,300-square-foot home on Kilgore Road.

But goats remain a no go, Brooks made clear in the letter.

Brownie and Happy sadly must stay at a boarding facility in Clermont, where Ali pays $300 a month in boarding fees.

Ali, who asked the county to amend its code, characterized the county’s long-awaited reply as “Here you go. Nope. Next question.”

Allowing Ali to keep the cud-chewing critters “would have significant implications countywide and could introduce conflicts in residential communities,” Brooks wrote.

Brooks said the family property sits in an area zoned “rural-country estate” where homes are protected from "adverse effects sometimes found in agricultural districts.”

Many neighboring homes in the adjacent Brentwood Club are valued at $500,000 or more, according to the Orange County property appraiser’s site.

A nearby waterfront mansion formerly belonged to Major League Baseball All-Star pitcher Frank Viola.

Undaunted, Ali took his case to the agricultural advisory board as Brooks had suggested in his two-page explanation, dated May 31.

The board provides information and advisory opinions to commissioners.

Ali addressed the board at its June 5 meeting during public comment, requesting its help in changing the code to allow him to keep his pet goats.

Ali said he doubted the matter would be solved before he leaves for med school in August. That may decide Happy and Brownie’s fate.

“I really do hope something can be worked out with the county so that we do not have to sell them but honestly I am not hopeful,” he said.

The controversy coincidentally led a neighbor to get rid of camels, which also are considered livestock and not allowed in the neighborhood.

Code enforcement officials were unaware a neighbor had camels until a broadcast report showed a grainy photo of the dromedaries on the 13-acre estate.

A code enforcement officer said the property-owner removed the humped desert animals after the news report.

Stephen Hudak can be reached at shudak@orlandosentinel.com or 407-650-6361. Follow him on Twitter @Bearlando

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