Vermont town says house pigs must go
ESSEX — A Vermont woman considers her pigs to be pets, but town officials where she lives say they’re farm animals and have no business living in a residential neighborhood.
The Essex zoning board on Thursday gave Florence Gruber and Alan Tsefrekas until Jan. 22 to remove an estimated 30 to 40 miniature potbellied pigs from their home in the Pinewood Manor neighborhood.
Gruber told the board her pigs use litter boxes and that the adult animals weigh in at 50 to 100 pounds. She’s given them names like Larry, Nadia, Olive and Snow White Sleepy Girl.
But a town official said Gruber was violating town regulations by keeping pigs in a residential area, and neighbors who have complained about the pigs and the condition of the property told board members the pigs must go.
“You have neighbors; that’s the issue,” resident Marie Sadler said. “It’s about consideration for people in the neighborhood.”
Gruber last month told the Burlington Free Press that she had lost count of how many pigs she had — at least 30, maybe 40.
The newspaper said the pigs were living downstairs and upstairs, and that the house smelled of bleach. Gruber said she knew she couldn’t keep so many pigs in her house, but needed perhaps a month to find new homes for them.
“We want to get rid of all of them except two or three,” she said. “We never intended to keep this many in a situation like this.”
A New Jersey court last spring order Gruber to find new homes for the roughly 30 pigs she had in a house in Paulsboro, N.J. Gruber said she ended up with so many pigs after she began breeding them.
She moved to Vermont when Tsefrekas invited her to live with him, with both of them mistakenly believing the pigs were allowed to live with them, she said.
Town officials began investigating the pigs after Tsefrekas was observed dumping animal waste in a ravine behind the house. A town official who visited the home in November counted 47 pigs, said Zoning Administrator Sharon Kelley.