John R. and Karen Fleishell's sheep are not disturbing the peace, the Howard County Animal Matters Hearing Board has decided.
The board ruled in favor of the Daisy Road sheep owners on Fleishell's appeal of a complaint brought by his neighbor, Bruce Snyder.
Snyder filed an affidavit with the county animal control division in June, complaining that the sheep bleated loudly late at night and during early morning hours. The board mailed its decision, made last week to Snyder and Fleishell, but has not released it publicly. Animal control Administrator Tahira Williams said she could not issue the ruling until she receives confirmation that both parties have seen it, and she did not have that confirmation by Tuesday.
Animal control officers cited John Fleishell for disturbing the peace on the basis of Snyder's formal complaint. The sheep owner had the option of paying a $25 fine or appealing to the hearing board, and he chose to appeal.
"We're really happy about it," said Karen Fleishell, a University of Maryland student who began raising sheep in cooperation with her father, John Fleishell, 12 years ago.
"We didn't think we had a problem," Karen said, adding that she and her father were pleased that the board agreed.
Snyder was not expected home until late Tuesday evening and could not be reached for comment on the decision before The Howard County Sun's press time. He said earlier that he simply wanted to enjoy peace and quiet at his home, and if the board judged the sheep's bleating to be reasonable, he would be satisfied with the decision.
The board reasoned that the Daisy Road area south of Lisbon is zoned rural, a zoning classification that allows livestock to be kept on lots of one acre or more.
Board members also found that the Fleishells are using standard grazing and management practices for the sheep.