Petting zoo gets Graham P&Z approval

The Graham County Planning and Zoning Commission approved a conditional use permit for a small animal petting zoo on Cottontail Trail. - Los Muertos Crew Photo/Pexels

SAFFORD — There’s a new option for children’s parties in the Gila Valley — a petting zoo.

At its most recent meeting, the Graham County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously approved a conditional use permit for a small animal petting zoo at a property on the 5800 block of Cottontail Trail.

Property owner Kaye Congdon said the plan is to serve up to 10 children at birthday parties or other special occasions, during the day and on weekends or holidays.

“I have goats, chickens, ducks, turkeys and I had a lamb until this week . . . it just went. And then I have some rabbits,” Congdon said, adding that children will be able to milk the goats.

The majority of public comment on the issue was opposed primarily on the basis of traffic and parking. Numerous residents in the area said the unpaved road was too narrow to handle significant traffic. Also there can be no roadside parking.

A few also mentioned that small animal can attract predators to the area, such as coyotes or bobcats.

Graham County Planning Director Steve McGaughey said the special use permit, rather than a zoning change, gives the county more ability to address the concerns of the neighboring property owners.

“I think we can work all that out,” McGaughey said. “Because it’s a special use permit, if there are problems, the neighbors can come to us. And we can either rectify them between Kaye and myself or, if she said, ‘No, I don’t care’ — which she’s not going to do — we could pull the permit.”

Congdon said she has access to a family member’s property for overflow parking. She has a slab ready for tables for parties, and she said she will bring in portable toilets and a hand-washing station following the permit approval.

Congdon did not offer a timeline on when the petting zoo will be open to the public.