Pinal County approves San Tan Valley petting zoo permit

Animals at the petting zoo include six sheep, eight goats, a miniature horse and sometimes borrowed animals such as ducks. (Pinal County)

A private petting zoo can continue to operate with recreational vehicle spaces and accessory uses on a 4.8-acre parcel in San Tan Valley, the Pinal County Board of Supervisors decided.

The supervisors voted unanimously Dec. 19 to approve a special use permit for Lisa Ferganchick, landowner and applicant, for the zoo north of Ocotillo Road and west of Jackrabbit Road. She has owned a pony ride and petting zoo in Los Angeles County since 1975, according to a county document.

Owners Lisa and Leslie Ferganchick bought the San Tan Valley property in 2010 to operate a private educational petting zoo.

The previous owners had a 2007-approved special use permit to have the RVs for caretakers of the petting zoo, according to county documents.

“Since owning the property we have made (it) available to adults and children to learn and interact with domestic farm animals,” Lisa and Leslie Ferganchick said in the 2018 permit application.

Visitors and invited guests must have an appointment to enter the property, which is only used October-May, they wrote.

Animals include six sheep, eight goats, a miniature horse and sometimes borrowed animals such as ducks, chickens, pigs or donkeys, they wrote.

A temporary use permit was filed March 22 to allow five temporary RV spaces and equipment storage and housing of animals until a special use permit was approved.

“We bring in foster children and school and church groups come to visit our animals for education on animal husbandry,” Lisa Ferganchick said in the application for a temporary permit.

The Pinal County Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously Nov. 15 to recommend approval of the special use permit plus 21 stipulations. Pinal County staff members had recommended denial of the request as RVs are not allowed as dwelling units in the Suburban Ranch Zone, Enrique Bojorquez, case coordinator, said in a memo to the planning commission.

“The SR Zone allows for the grazing and raising of livestock plus other animals similar to the proposed petting zoo animals. Thus, the proposed private petting zoo appears to be compatible with other uses in the zone,” Mr. Bojorquez said.

“However, staff does not support the use of RVs for living purposes as part of this application. But, should the commission find enough evidence to recommend approval of the request, staff has included the attached stipulations,” he said.

The stipulations include:

  • the hours of operation for the private petting zoo facility shall be limited to appointment only, with operations starting no earlier than 9 a.m. and concluding no later than 7 p.m. with a limit of guest visits to three per week on-site; and
  • the private petting zoo shall be in operation exclusively from Oct. 1 through May 30.

Editor Richard Dyer can be contacted via e-mail at rdyer@newszap.com or at twitter.com/rhdyer or facebook.com/RichardDyerJournalist

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