Kids These Days: Zoning Issues Arise for Goat Yoga in Manchester

As people do the downward dog and sun salutation at a farm in Manchester, interspersed with their “oms” are the peeps of baby goats and the squeals of piglets.

Why goat yoga? Aussakita Acres's owner, Tracy Longoria, said, 'why not?'.

"Goat yoga is just a fun wacky way to get people to the farm to interact with the animals,” Longoria said. 

But Manchester Mayor Jay Moran said the concept had gotten someone’s goat.

An anonymous complaint led a town zoning official to send the farm a cease and desist letter.

"I had to read it twice because I couldn’t understand it," Longoria recalled.

Moran said that goat yoga is a health and recreation activity but the location was only zoned for farming, according to his zoning officer's opinion. 

However, Longoria argues what they’re doing isn’t unlike any other Connecticut farm, where customers can pick their own fruit, run through a corn maze or a take a tour.

"People have been coming and doing activities on the farm long before we decided to adopt goat yoga," she pointed out.

That argument seemed to stick with Moran.

"I think what the owners tried to sell to me last night and educate me on is this is an opportunity to be on a farm and interact with the animals," Moran said.

Longoria, who is a member of Manchester's chamber of commerce, said that’s good news not only for her farm but also other local businesses this kind of agri-tourism supports.

"We’ve had people as far as Pennsylvania come. When they leave here they’re asking us, 'Where’s a good place in town to eat?',” Longoria said. 

Longoria said she plans to appeal to the local zoning board which takes its direction from state statute, not the mayor or town council.

However, the appeal buys her more time and she’ll be able to keep holding classes with not only with the goats that call this farm home, but also the sheep and even a piglet or two until a decision is made.

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