Chesterfield leaders forced to make decision in neighborhood battle over pigs

Neighborhood battle over pigs at woman's home

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WWBT) - Residents in a Chesterfield community are angry over pigs living in an area that is not zoned for livestock.

The owner says she has a good reason to keep her two Vietnamese Potbelly pigs and they are not causing a nuisance to anyone. The county granted a temporary exception but soon they’ll have to make a permanent decision on whether the pigs can stay or go.

In Janet Willis’ backyard, you’ll find what she calls her emotional support system, her pigs Olivia and Isabel.

"If I ever need a laugh, I’ll come out here and they’ll give me one,” she said.

Olivia has no problem greeting a stranger and Isabel would rather stay inside.

Willis has had them for about five years at her home in North Chesterfield.

“They don’t bark like a dog. They don’t stink like a dog,” she said, but not everyone is as excited as she is.

"When you start to bring livestock in a residential area, it will drive the property value down,” Margaret Jackson said.

Jackson lives a block or so away, and has created a petition to keep the pigs out of their neighborhood.

"I’ve got over 120 something-odd signatures,” she said.

But Willis says neighbors she’s spoken to aren’t raising a stink.

"I had to go for the planning commission and get every neighbor’s property who touches mine and sign a form saying, yes it’s OK for me to keep them,” Willis said.

She says all but one said they don't mind.

Chesterfield County offered the pig owner a temporary exception to keep them for now.

"You bring the pigs and you knew you were not supposed to have them. I don't feel you should be rewarded for something that you knew you shouldn't have,” Jackson said.

"I cannot give these pigs up,” Willis added.

The planning commission is recommending that the Board of Supervisors allow Willis to keep her pigs with conditions for three years. The board will vote on Dec. 11.

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