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Local man says he will keep fighting

Alan Griffin with his goats.
By Erin O'Connor

Staff Writer

AGAWAM - Area residents Alan and Suzanne Griffin are fighting the Board of Appeals' recent decision that orders the removal of the Griffin's goats Snow White and Cinderella from their 104 North Rd. residence.

The Griffins claim that Suzanne needs the goats for their milk due to a physical disability that she suffers known as colitis.

The city argues that the boarding of the goats goes against zoning laws and if one family is given an exception then others will follow with requests.

"The Board of Appeals voted not to grant the Special Permit that the Griffins requested because there is not enough information out there," Doreen Prouty of the Board of Appeals said. "It's not zoned for it. It goes against zoning laws," she added.

Alan Griffin said he will not get rid of his goats regardless of the city's threat that if the goats are not removed within ten days of their official written request then the Griffins will be fined $100 per day they continue to keep the goats.

"I will fine the city $300 a day in mental anguish," Alan said to Reminder Publications.

The Griffins are currently working with Attorney Frank Saia, who cited the Americans with Disabilities Act as reason for the family to be able to house the goats.

The Griffins were ordered to Housing Court last year and at that time they were ordered to get rid of the goats. Judge William H. Abrashkin ordered the goats gone within 30 days. At that time Alan went to the Board of Appeals and said that the city was violating the American Disabilities Act.

Fredrick Harpin of the Board of Appeals denied the case fell under the Disabilities Act.

"Because of her colitis she requires the goats," Saia said. "She must have two to four gallons [goat milk] per week and at $10 a gallon. They are poor people and they moved to this location because zoning said that horses were allowed."

Saia said that a case like this has never been tested in terms of case law but he presented the Tenth Amendment as argument for the case.

"The powers are reserved to the people," he said. "Nobody is basically saying it [housing of the goats] is a filthy thing."

The Griffins have contacted Senator Edward Kennedy in requesting assistant with the Board's decision.

Alan currently drives to Vermont once every two weeks to obtain fresh goat milk for his wife's condition. He said the cost of the goat milk and the cost of the gas far exceed the price of $22 per month that it costs him for room and board of the goats. He refuses to buy goat milk from area grocers stating that the quality and freshness of the milk is compromised due to its length of time on shelves.

"I do not believe Al Griffin should have to get rid of his goats," Donna Deysce, an abutter at 103 North Street said in a letter that was submitted at the Board of Appeals meeting on March 26.

According to Randall G. White, a health agent representing the Health Department, there have been no complaints received by the Agawam Health Department pertaining to 104 North St., the Griffin's residence.

"Without the goats, her health will be affected," Dr. George E. Reynolds, who is treating Suzanne, stated in a letter that was submitted at the Appeals meeting.

"I'm going to fight all the way," Alan said.

Alan, a native to Agawam, compares the owning of goats to that of owning a horse and questions why residents can have a horse but not a goat.

"The town is really wrong. I bought them. How can they say they will take them away? They say a horse is a 'pleasure vehicle' while a horse eats hay and a goat eats hay and a horse has four hooves and a goat has four hooves. [It will] end her right up in the hospital," Alan said in speaking of his wife's current health.

Suzanne Griffin was unavailable for comment due to health reasons.