R Anderson in News-Gazette wrote:Council Gets Another Perspective On Chickens
Chickens in the city was to be the topic at a work session of Lexington City Council last night.
Council has listened to the views of a steady stream of citizens during the past several months, mostly proponents of a change in the city ordinance to allow resident to keep limited number of hens in residential areas. Last week, city resident John Morman offered a slightly different perspective on the issue.
Morman reiterated some of the reasons given by supporters of having chickens in the city ― fresh eggs, organic manure and teaching children responsibility. However, he went on to note that these arguments could also be made by supporters of other urban livestock, such as goats, alpacas or ducks. Where do you draw the line for domesticated livestock, Morman asked.
Morman also had a long list of considerations about the added responsibility of owning chickens. He pointed out the careful monitoring needed for young chicks, other parasite problems that might spread to other animals and birdlife, predators attracted by chickens ranging from foxes to the neighbor’s cats and the difficulties resulting from keeping chickens in confinement such as anti-social behaviors including plucking their companions and even cannibalism.
“So we’re left with a decision which comes down to whether or not the city decides to cater to a small group who wants something simply because they want it, and based largely upon arguments that can apply equally to a number of species; or Council sides with a group of citizens – I don’t know whether larger or smaller – who simply don’t want it based upon their own opinions,” Morman said.
In either case, Council faces a difficult decision, he concluded.
Council To Take Up Chickens In Fall
Public Hearing On Proposal Postponed Until October
Advocates of keeping chickens within the city of Lexington will soon be making their third attempt in five years to receive that right.
City Council is expected to hold a public hearing sometime in October on a proposed ordinance to allow up to six hens to be kept in backyard chicken coops under conditions set forth in the proposed law.
A public hearing and vote on the issue had to be postponed until that date in order to find a time that all Council members will be present.
Council did hold a work session last week to discuss the proposed ordinance. Provisions of the ordinance include that eggs may not be sold commercially and that no slaughtering of birds should occur. Pens must be at least 25 feet from property lines and at least 10 feet from any adjacent structure on the homeowner’s property. The enclosure must be a secure mesh-covered structure, not made of scrap materials and in good condition. Manure must be appropriately composted or removed from the property by the owner. Dead chickens are to be disposed of appropriately, such as at the landfill. Any odors detected by neighbors will be considered a violation of the ordinance by the chicken owner.
And finally ― no roosters.
The first violation of the ordinance will be a Class 3 misdemeanor and subsequent violations will be Class 2 misdemeanors.
Of chief concern to Council members was the cost to the city of enforcing the regulations set forth in the new ordinance and whether the overwhelming majority of the city’s residents who will not have chickens should pay the associated costs for the estimated 5 percent of the population who want chickens.
An annual fee of $25 has been suggested for the license to have chickens. The new ordinance requires prospective chicken owners to provide a sketch showing the area where the pen will be located along with their application. An onsite inspection is then required by the animal control officer.
The ordinance also calls for the animal control officer to make periodic inspections of the chicken coops to make sure regulations set forth in the ordinance are being followed, such as correct handling of manure, the maintenance of the chicken coop and whether portable pens are being moved regularly as required.
Councilwoman Mary Harvey-Halseth pointed out that although an annual license fee for a dog is $10, the suggested fee for as many as six hens is $25.
Mayor Mimi Elrod expressed concern about the annual fee being excessive for people who are interested in raising their own food. However, Councilman Bob Lera said that if residents can afford the approximate $1,000 startup costs to construct an appropriate chicken coop, they could certainly afford a higher annual fee than $25.
Councilwoman Marylin Alexander also said she believes low-income families will probably not participate in the program.
Lera also proposed other changes to the ordinance. He said chickens should not be allowed on any property adjacent to an existing bed and breakfast. He pointed out that bed and breakfasts contribute some $200,000 annually in transient occupancy taxes, and bed and breakfast owners have indicated that having chickens next door could hurt their businesses.
Lera suggested as well that all chicken coops be limited to backyards.
Finally, health concerns were a topic of discussion. Harvey-Halseth said provisions should be included for mandatory disposal of chickens if an outbreak of salmonella or avian flu should occur.
City Manager Jon Ellestad noted that the Virginia Department of Health tracks such incidents and the VDH authority would supersede the city’s authority.
News-Gazette on Aug 8, 2012 wrote:Give Backyard Chickens A Try
Lexington, traditionally regarded as a progressive city in its policies and practices, has lagged in one conspicuous category – its failure to fully embrace the locally grown agricultural movement.
Twice in the past seven years, Lexington City Council has rejected the notion of allowing micro-flocks of egg-laying hens within the city limits. Lexington is alone among the three local jurisdictions in forbidding residential dwellers from raising their own chickens.
Last year, proponents of the practice were able to convince the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors to amend the county’s zoning regulations to allow the keeping of up to six hens in residential neighborhoods, under carefully controlled conditions. Minimum lot sizes and setbacks are specified, as are pen, coop and cleanliness requirements.
Despite their two previous setbacks, city chick supporters have set their sights once again on Lexington. With dozens of cities and towns across Virginia having put out the welcome mat for residential chickens, proponents are again pressing Lexington to get on board.
Arguments are numerous in favor of allowing city residents to raise their own egg-laying hens. There are advantages to knowing where your food comes from. The risk of illness from contamination is less, chemical additives aren’t introduced and younger family members get an education in how the food chain works.
Those who regularly consume eggs of free-range home hens say they’re much tastier than those that come from their caged counterparts in large industrial- agricultural operations. They swear they’ll never again settle for the eggs found at most supermarkets.
We agree with proponents that Lexington City Council should reconsider its earlier stance on this issue. A proposed new ordinance includes carefully crafted conditions to ensure that micro-flocks are kept in appropriately constructed enclosures of a certain size and distance from neighboring properties. Provisions have to be made for ensuring the cleanliness of the coops.
We readily acknowledge that those who keep micro-flocks of home hens have a special responsibility to their neighbors to abide by the rules and not create a public nuisance or health hazard. If the practice were to create too many problems, City Council could revisit the issue and decide to disallow it.
We do caution Council against adopting regulations that are unduly onerous or from imposing hefty annual fees. The objective is to welcome a healthful practice into the city that will enhance the locally grown movement.
We think the idea is worth pursuing. The city ought to adopt reasonable regulations and see how it works.
Home hen practitioners will be the healthier for it, and they’ll be setting an example for people who believe in humane conditions for poultry. The practice also provides invaluable lessons for children as well as the community as a whole.
Adopting such an ordinance would allow Lexington to reassert its position at the forefront of progressive policies.
Juggler wrote:If she sees a hen, Mary Harvey-Halseth will shriek and leap backward in terror. She'll hold a cross high, load her revolver with a silver bullet, and attempt to drive a wooden stake through the poor bird's heart. A shivering Bob Lera will hide behind Mary's back.
crux wrote:Hey Stonewall. You volunteered an assist HERE, but I still wonder how "the wise one" is able to get his "list of tragic shootings" into a LAST AS POSTED position on the BANG! thread. I would like to know how he did that.
I might like to make a list of say, urban areas that have approved chickens in city limits, or something, and have it appear last. Do I have to make a list on a thread I CREATED?? Thanks for addressing this. I will look for your response on the BANG! thread.
This is not the appropriate place perhaps. Maybe you missed my query there?? I will await your answer... Thanks.
coondog wrote:All US companies should begin to deprive these rebellious countries of all of the sodas and fast foods we have gotten them addicted to in recent years.
coondog wrote:Maybe when they've had to go back to eating goat burgers, with one hand instead of two, like they had to do for thousands of years, they'll remember why, deep in their hearts, they really do love America!
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