This ought to hold a goat

Published 6:02 pm Tuesday, March 12, 2019

By Frederic Lee 

Staff writer 

Using a private donation of $2,000, a Smithfield Town Council member is installing an electric fence around a section of trees at Windsor Castle Park, next to the kayak launch at Cypress Creek. 

It’s intention? To keep a herd of ivy and underbrush-eating goats from escaping.

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The electric fence, currently under construction, will enclose a 2- to 3-acre section of trees southeast of the Windsor Castle barns, between Kayak Lane and Cypress Creek. The fence is intermittently marked with warning signs, and it runs next to Kayak Lane briefly.  {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Work on the fence began less than a week ago, according to Smithfield Town Council member Michael Smith, whose construction company is building the fence. Smith said that the cost of construction would not exceed the $2,000 donation.  

Smith said that the individual who made the donation wants to remain anonymous. 

The goats will be provided by David Prim with Suffolk. Smith said that four or five goats will be used for the clearing.  

In July 2018, Town Council approved the renting of goats at the cost of $1,000 per month to clear out the park’s invasive plants — including English ivy and poison ivy. But the three goats escaped to wreak havoc with residential neighbors of the park, according to Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams.   

Smith said that this fence was an extension of that same project.

Last June, Smithfield Director of Planning, Zoning and Public Works William Saunders said during a Parks and Recreation Committee Meeting that the town would not need permits in order to use goats at the park as long as the goats were fenced away from the resource protection buffer along Cypress Creek. 

A resource protection area is a 100-foot-wide section of protected land that starts from the edge of certain Chesapeake Bay-linked waterways, going landward.  

Smith said that the fence is in accordance with the resource protection area regulations. 

According to the American Heart Association, people with pacemakers and ICDs — implantable cardioverter defibrillators — should avoid electric fences, because the electromagnetic waves that they emit can disrupt the technology. 

Smith said that the fence being put up doesn’t use electromagnetism, and that someone would receive more harmful effects standing in front of a microwave than standing near that fence. 

On the $2,000, there are only two exemptions in the Freedom of Information Act for anonymous donations — donors to Veterans Services and Higher Education, but Alan Gernhardt, executive director of the Virginia Freedom of Information Advisory Council, said he doesn’t know of any for local governments.  {/mprestriction}