Neighbors out to get someone’s goats

Special to the Tribune

Woodfin – The Town of Woodfin Board of Aldermen’s chambers saw a larger than usual attendance Tuesday evening (August 20th). In fact, the room was nearly full. The reason for the crowd was goats. That’s right…goats!

A crowd room for regular monthly Woodfin Aldermen meeting.
A crowd room for regular monthly Woodfin Aldermen meeting.

The neighbors of Gillian Humphrey, who live on Wolf Park Circle on the west side of the French Broad River in Woodfin, wants Humphrey’s goats gone and were at the meeting to voice their displeasure with the lack of response by town officials to their demands for action.

Gillian Humphrey
Gillian Humphrey

Leading the charge to have the goats removed is Larry Ball, who lives on Bancroft Trail and whose property borders that of Humphrey. With him were about 15 to 20 of his fellow neighbors to add support to his request.

Ball passed a multi-page packet to members of the board before starting. “Thank you all for listening to what I have to say tonight,” said Ball, who did most of the talking for the group of residents. He went on to describe his relationship with this neighbor (Humphrey) as “a cordial relationship” for almost 15 years up until the last year. What changed?

According to Ball, it wasn’t Humphrey’s chicken business that she’s had since 2008 in which the chickens lay eggs and she sells online. Woodfin allows residents to keep fowl and Ball said, “Until recently her business did not disturb the neighborhood.” He said that last year she started raising goats “…in violation of Woodfin’s ordinance.”

Larry Ball
Larry Ball

According to Ball, Humphrey is claiming her property is a “USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) farm” and that designation gives her an exemption from the town’s ordinance prohibiting keeping farm animals inside the town limits except for fowl like chickens and ducks. So far, the town has recognized the USDA’s classification and left Humphrey’s goats be, much to the chagrin of her neighbors. Ball listed several complaints that he had with the goats, including that they were getting out of their fence and the goats were drawing flies.

Mayor Jerry VeHaun asked if anyone else wished to speak, but Alderman Don Hensley asked Ball and others to give the board a minute to look over the packet he had handed out. After a few minutes, VeHaun requested the parties to meet with the town’s attorney before the next meeting of the aldermen.

Afterward, other attendees also voiced their opinion of the goats, none of which were favorable. Humphrey, who was also present at the meeting, mostly listened to her neighbors as they offered their comments to the board.

Also during public comment, Doug Hattaway, who represented RiverLink as a consultant, introduced himself as the person who would be working with Woodfin on the Greenway/Blueway project. He will be monitoring the progress in raising funds, providing assistance in the fundraising and reporting back to Riverlink and Woodfin.

In action items from the board’s agenda, the aldermen passed a resolution honoring the civil contribution of resident Sherry Campbell.

Also passed was a resolution declaring a 1985 Ford F-350 as surplus equipment and will be sold at an online website ( The board also appointed Jane Anne Tager to the ABC Control Commission. Tager is a 25-year resident of the town. The board also voted to advertise two vacancies on the planning and zoning board.

After hearing reports from the various departments, the board voted to go into executive session, after which they voted to adjourn the meeting.

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Clint Parker

Publisher & Editor Weaverville Tribune

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