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Politics: Detroit considers bringing in goats to eat grass on un-mowed vacant lots

Image Credit: Klearchos Kapoutsis via Flickr

Published by: Dan Calabrese on Friday September 27th, 2013

Dan Calabrese

Urban agriculture in the Motor City.

You think I'm messing with you. You think I'm trying to turn this site into the Onion. You're like, "OK, you need link traffic so you're starting one of those fake Facebook convos."

Ha. Ask Rob. We're from Detroit. Nothing is implausible.

Nothing:

Councilman James Tate introduced the idea of allowing firms to use sheep and goats to trim grass on vacant lots at the request of residents in the Brightmoor neighborhood. One company, City Girls Soap, is pitching a plan to start an urban goat farm in the area for a creamery, cheese cave and a soap-making facility.

The first-term councilman made it clear he does not see the proposal as a way of replacing the city’s fleet of grass-cutters. Under the proposal, neighborhoods would need petitions signed by 51 percent of residents in the area, and the city has to determine if the location is feasible.

“In my mind, this is not replacing humans who are working (and) doing the job with sheep, but providing opportunities for potential individuals who want to utilize this as a service,” Tate said. “Utilizing sheep and goats is not right for every neighborhood.”

Laura DeYoung, executive director of the Cleveland-based nonprofit Urban Shepherds who testified before the council subcommittee, hopes Detroit will proceed with a pilot project. Urban Shepherds is working with St. Clair Superior Development Corp. in Cleveland to create a model for the animal concept.

“Everyone was open to the idea and hopefully it will generate some discussion,” DeYoung said. “ ... It makes sense as an economic development tool, cost-savings tool (and) reduction of environmental impacts and reduction of maintenance areas of eyesores.”

The number of vacant lots in Detroit is not known, but we do know there are 78,000 abandoned buildings. A city that's $18 billion in debt and running a structural deficit of more than $300 million simply does not have the manpower or the equipment to maintain all that property. It gets old for me to keep writing, "Drive around Detroit and you'll see," and to be clear, don't do that. It's not safe.

But yeah, given the condition of the properties in the city, any and all ideas have to be considered. The biggest question is who would pick up the poop, but I guess the Urban Shepherds would deal with that, no?

Ladies and gentlemen, the ultimate outcome of sheer, unrestrainted governance by the Democratic Party.

The biggest question is: Which of the City of Detroit's 48 different employee unions will organize the goats, negotiate for their six-figure pensions and ensure their right to bathroom breaks throughout the day? Some of these management types just treat the employees like animals.

A new edition of Dan's book "Powers and Principalities" is now available in hard copy and e-book editions. Follow all of Dan's work, including his series of Christian spiritual warfare novels, by liking his page on Facebook.