Goat-gate: Man deploys goats to clean up Detroit; city officials not amused

Goat-gate: Man deploys goats to clean up Detroit; city officials not amused

[Ed. – Hey, it’s not such a bad idea.]

[Economist Mark Spitznagel] wants to deploy goats to help clean up the nation’s largest bankrupt city. Just last month, a task force revealed how monumental the job is:  A whopping 40,000 dilapidated buildings need to be torn down now. Tens of thousands more may have to be demolished or at least restored to be made useable. The task force found that about 30% of the lots in the city-114,000 parcels, many packed with trash and redolent with weeds-are utterly vacant. More than 90 percent of publicly-held parcels are officially designated as “blighted.”

Last Thursday, Spitznagel trucked 18 baby goats from his farm four hours north and set them down in what the Detroit Free Press termed “a desolate block next to a burned-out abandoned house” right across the street from “an empty field” in the Brightmoor section of the Motor City. The experiment was dubbed Idyll Farms Detroit, after the name of his farm in northern Michigan. The goats were an instant hit with the neighbors, who welcomed the animals and their blight-eating appetites.

The reaction from the City of Detroit, however, was swift and not-so-friendly. A bureaucracy known for its endless foot-dragging this time slammed its foot firmly down. The goats would have to be gone by noon Monday (yesterday). Apparently they are in violation of a city ordinance that makes it “unlawful to own, harbor, keep, maintain, sell or transfer farm or wild animals.” …

On Monday as the deadline loomed, Spitznagel complied with the city’s order and moved the goats off-site. The Battle of Goatville (that’s my name for it) is on hold as talks are underway with city officials. “Idyll Farms is hoping to work with the city in order to allow such urban farming projects to proceed in Brightmoor,” Spitznagel told me late yesterday.

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