The operating budget is in effect, the convention center financing is a few months away and the May Town Center issue has been deferred indefinitely.
Filling the void as a hot button issue on Metro Council — regulating backyard chickens.
Metro Council members are being kept abreast of feedback from residents on a bill that would effectively outlaw chickens, and other farm animals, inside the urban services district.
The USD comprises downtown, East Nashville and all the land within the interstate loop surrounding the city.
“I guess it could have some humor associated with it,” said District 13 Councilman Carl Burch, who supports the backyard chicken ban. “But it’s not funny if you’re the neighbor who’s been adversely affected by someone keeping domesticated farm animals.”
Although the bill — which already passed first reading and will be on public hearing at Council in September — would ban chickens, cows, donkeys, ducks, geese, goat, horses, mules, peafowl, pigs and sheep, its main purpose for updating the zoning code is backyard chickens.
There are two conflicting portions of the Metro code, one which states chickens are banned when they are a nuisance, and a conflicting code which more explicitly prohibits them. Burch said the update would simply help Metro get a leg up in clarifying violations, which the Codes Department has been enforcing for years.
“In order to resolve the issue with the Codes Department and how we’ve normally been enforcing the code, we needed further definition of what domesticated farm animals,” Burch said.
Ironically, earlier this year there was consideration to open up the USD to chicken farming with some regulations as part of a zoning bill that protected community gardens in Davidson County. That bill was sponsored by District 24 Councilman Jason Holleman, who said he wasn’t hesitant to support a ban.
Few residents have cried ‘fowl,’ by in a letter to District 18 Metro Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde, Nashville resident J. Tucker Rojas did explain some of the benefits of backyard chickens.
Rojas said backyard chickens act as a natural insect control, a source of organic fertilizer and an extension of the urban farming movement, among other benefits.
Codes has typically enforced the chicken ban reactively once it receives complaints from neighbors. Earlier this year Burch had such an issue arise in his district and his hope is to avoid similar conflicts in the future.
“The [chicken] itself is not unhealthy, but you can imagine what is going to happen if everybody on your street, if you live in the USD, has chickens, or goats or whatever,” Burch said. “The USD is not cut out to have that type of farm animal on each piece of property.”
The bill would have no effect on properties in rural or agricultural zones.