Pig, fowl farm to be shut down

Family’s nine swine and 100-plus birds violate town’s zoning laws
By: Joyia Emard Gold Country News Service
-A +A
An illegal pig and fowl farm in Loomis is being closed down after neighbors complained of foul odors. The Kuzmenko family, immigrants from Estonia, recently found out that some old country practices don’t translate well. The Kuzmenkos live on Bankhead Road, and, while raising pigs and fowl are allowable property uses within the town of Loomis, there is a catch — you must have a lot size of at least two acres for pigs, live in rural estate or rural agriculture zones, and may only have one pig per acre. Fowl and poultry may be kept on minimum half-acre lots, with a maximum of 12 per acre. According to Mike Langford, town code enforcement officer, a representative from county air pollution and two animal control officers inspected the property on Oct. 4 in response to a complaint about bad odor. Langford said they found nine pigs and more than 100 fowl on a 1.5-acre property zoned rural estate. The family has been ordered to remove all of the pigs and all but 18 of the fowl by Oct. 22, when another site inspection is scheduled to occur. “It was a little sad. It clearly seems like a case of the residents not understanding the rules,” Langford said. Langford said Michael Kuzmenko was distressed to learn he could no longer raise the animals. In an interview with Gold Country News Service, Vera Fomichev, of Sacramento, spoke on behalf of the family. “It was a surprise to them. They grow a lot of their own food. They were farmers in Estonia and Uzbekistan. They have 10 children and feed them all,” Fomichev said. “Their vegetables and the animals – it’s all organic, no pesticides or chemicals,” Fomichev said. Other residents who live on Bankhead had mixed thoughts about the animalkeeping on the property. “I only noticed the smell once. It was strong – like sewage,” said neighbor Maggie Pennington. “They’re very giving people and they share their vegetables with us. They’re from Russia. It’s just their way of life. I don’t have a problem with it,” Pennington said. Laura Uno, another neighbor, said, “It smells like a dairy.” “A friend who was visiting said it smelled like tallow,” Uno said. Della and Howard Staats have lived next door to the Kuzmenkos for 18 years. “The old couple doesn’t speak much English, but the sons and daughters are all nice kids,” Della Howard said. “They help us if we need it. We’ve never objected to the animals,” Howard Staats said. Matt Lopez, assistant planner for the town of Loomis, said the town, Placer County animal control, health department and air pollution control district all visited the property in response to complaints from “multiple neighbors.” “We had complaints of foul odors, too many animals, pigs being slaughtered, allegations of bones being burned,” Lopez said. Lopez said the Kuzmenkos have admitted in the past to slaughtering pigs on site. One of the family’s daughters, Vera Kuzmenko, said her parents did not intentionally break the law. “They thought they were doing a good thing. They understand now. The animals are going,” Vera Kuzmenko said. This is the second time that animal control has responded to complaints at the Kuzmenko home. In 2006, 11 dogs were confiscated from the family after animal control received several complaints from people who had answered a newspaper ad in which the Kuzmenkos advertised some Chihuahuas and miniature pinscher dogs for sale. The family had been breeding the dogs and the complaints centered on the care and condition of several of the dogs. Town zoning ordinances allow for only four dogs. --------------------------- LOOMIS ANIMAL KEEPING Where: Town of Loomis rural agriculture, rural estate and rural residential zones Aviary: 20 or more birds, other than fowl and poultry; 20 per acre on a minimum half-acre Dogs and cats: Four animals total on a site less than one acre; four of each on larger lots Fowl and poultry: 12 per acre on minimum half-acre Hogs and swine: One per acre on a minimum of two acres, in rural agriculture and rural estate zones only Horses and cows: Two per acre on a minimum of one acre; minor use permit required in rural residential zone