Delta Township Zoning Board Postpones Vote on Family's Pet Pig

By: Anthony Sabella Email
By: Anthony Sabella Email

It looks like the Schuiling family can keep their pet pig...for now.

It took two tied votes and nearly two hours of discussion before the Delta Township Zoning Board of Appeals made a decision to table the issue. For Nicole Schuiling, the frustration continues.

"I was hoping for it to just be decided that we can keep him," she said. "However, I am happy with the fact that they didn't say 'no'."

It started a little more than a year ago, when Schuiling bought her son, Jake, a pot-bellied pig for his birthday, to keep as a pet.

In March, the Schuilings got a letter from the township saying their pig, Oscar, was considered livestock and in violation of a zoning ordinance. That rule was reaffirmed by Zoning Administrator Mark Graham and quickly appealed by Schuiling.

Tuesday night, the final decision was left to the Zoning Board. Is a pot-bellied pig livestock or a pet? The answer is obvious for member Jeff Hicks.

"Our ordinance includes in the definition of livestock, 'swine'," said Hicks. "Unfortunately, there's no way around that."

However, Hicks' motion to uphold the ordinance was met with 3-3 tie, Tuesday, as was a motion to allow the Schuilings to keep Oscar. With Chair Gary Reed not present for the meeting, the tie couldn't be broken. Now, the board must make a decision at its next meeting.

Nicole Schuiling isn't waiting that long.

"First thing [Wednesday] morning, I'm going to call Mark Graham and find out what I need to do to file the paperwork to request them to re-write the ordinance," said Schuiling.

That decision will have to be made by the Delta Township Board of Trustees, but in the meantime Oscar is allowed to stay home.

"It's good that we can keep my pig for a little bit longer," said Jake Schuiling.

The next Zoning Board of Appeals meeting is August 13.

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