Llama drama in Wildwood

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WILDWOOD, MO (KPLR) – When the Wildwood Planning and Zoning Commission meets next week an unusual guest may be in attendance – a llama named “Pebbles.”

You’d think in a place called Wildwood, a person living out in the woods with a few wild animals would not cause much of a stir. But it stands now things are looking a little wooly.

Julie Wier, who lives in the middle of Rockwoods Reservation, has learned the city has reservations about her 15 alpacas and llamas.

“Where else to have llamas but in the middle of a nature preserve, a conservation area,” she said.

Wier and her husband moved to Wildwood last summer, thinking they had found the perfect spot for themselves and their animals. Especially after they called city hall to make sure llamas were allowed. She said whoever took their call said the llamas were allowed, so the couple moved to Wildwood last July.

But just before Christmas, the Wiers received an unwanted present.

“In December, I got a lovely note a little card on my door and then a lovely letter that said I had 10 days to remove my llamas. And it was a freak out moment. There was lots of crying going on,” Wier said.

Wildwood does allow llamas, but only on farms. By city ordinance, a property qualifies for farm status if it’s at least five acres. It turns out the Wiers’ property is only 4.2 acres. But after pleading her case to the planning commission, its members agreed unanimously to recommend changing the law so that llamas would be considered in the same category as horses, which can live on as few as three acres.

“I thought I won. I let everybody know on Facebook,” she said.

Despite the planning commission’s recommendation to change the law, the city council rejected the idea on Monday, and told the commission to come up with something else, fearing the change would throw open the proverbial barn doors.

“What is to say someone else wouldn’t come along and say, ‘Look I like otters, please I want to be able to treat otters the same way I treat horses and everything else,’ and we start that kind of cascade, that is the issue more than anything else,” said Wildwood Mayor Tim Woerther.

Wier hopes all the people who stop by to admire her animals will see her sign imploring them to call city hall and let the fur fly.

“I hope the city is ready for a few phone calls,” she said.

Wier said she has been told the city may allow her to keep her animals by granting her a special use permit, but that may require having an aerial survey, which she said costs $500. But in the end, she said this is more about the principle than the money, and she is planning to take her best behaved llama with her to Monday’s planning commission meeting to prove she is not horsing around.

“If it doesn’t happen then I won’t be in Wildwood,” she said. “Then there is nothing I can do about it. If I can’t have my animals, then they can’t have me.”