South Portland residents may now keep two farm animals weighing between 5 and 180 pounds on their properties of 1 acre or more.

The South Portland City Council approved the amendment to the Animals and Fowl ordinance, which previously didn’t allow for the keeping of small farm animals, in a 5-2 vote last week.

The amendment cites sheep, goats and pigs, but it applies to all “animals that are being kept for the purpose of farming that are under 180 pounds at maturity,” Planning Director Milan Nevajda said.

The number of animals allowed can increase based on the size of someone’s property but is capped at four.

The ordinance does not apply to pre-existing farms, to residents who have chickens and fowl or beekeeping setups. Also exempt are temporary service animals, such as sheep brought in for lawn maintenance.

It addresses potential nuisances, such as requiring barns to be kept at least 100 feet from neighboring homes and requiring owners to thwart rodents and pests and keep odors from traveling. It also has provisions for animal welfare, including requiring that the animals be adequately fed and kept safe from predators, and it prohibits on-premises slaughtering.


Owners are required to license their small farm animals and renew their licenses annually.

Councilors Linda Cohen and Richard Matthews voted against the amendment.

“I totally understand people wanting to be able to either have them for pets or to have them for the products they can get from them,” Cohen said. “I just can’t support it in South Portland.”

Matthews said he was hesitant because he hasn’t heard widespread support for such an amendment.

“We have (roughly) 28,000 people in South Portland, and we haven’t had a lot of people reach out for support of this,” he said.

While formal council discussions on small farm animals began in 2018, the city’s 2012 Comprehensive Plan “noted the growing interest in urban agriculture,” including “the raising of farm animals within residential neighborhoods,” Nevajda said in a memo to the council.


An animal-keeping ordinance was drafted in 2020.

“We had presented it in detail specifically what animals are we talking about,” Nevajda told The Forecaster Wednesday. “What kind of standards would we need to apply in order to protect neighbors’ properties, and the animals as well.”

The council reworked the draft ordinance in 2021, opting for an animal licensing model rather than requiring residents to seek land use approvals. It also settled on the 180-pound weight maximum for the animals.

The ordinance received preliminary approval in October 2022 and was voted into law March 7.

Mayor Kate Lewis is the only current member of the council to participate in each formal discussion of the ordinance since 2018.

“I have watched the evolution of this concept,” she said. “It has changed significantly. I feel comfortable that we have put parameters on the sizes of animals … We’re not talking about cows, we’re not talking about horses.”

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