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Geese Police, Inc. v. Township of Howell Zoning Board of Adjustment

A-6423-99T1 (N.J. Super. App. 2001) (Unpublished)

ZONING; AGRICULTURE—Raising dogs that are trained to control geese, though esoteric, can constitute an agricultural use.

A property was located in a mixed agricultural, horticultural, and residential zone. The property owner raised dogs on the property and marketed those dogs’ services to chase geese. Neighbors alleged that such a use was impermissible in the zone. According to the lower court, “dogs produce social benefits preventing geese from congregating in public areas where they are a nuisance and a health hazard, dispersing the geese to less populated or unpopulated areas.” According to the lower court, the use of the property for raising dogs “conforms to the physical and operational characteristics of more traditional agricultural uses.” The Appellate Division affirmed, holding that “[a]lthough the esoteric present use [for raising dogs] is not specifically described in [the municipality’s] use ordinance, that ordinance’s descriptions [of agricultural uses] are not cast as limitations but are presented as examples of permitted uses.” Consequently, use of the property to raise dogs whose services are sold for the purpose of chasing geese was held to be a permitted use within the zone.


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