The surprise hot-button topic on Metro Council this year has been the issue of allowing residents to keep chickens in their backyards in residential areas.
On the heels of a zoning bill that would have outlawed chickens, Council will consider at its Tuesday meeting a bill that would allow backyard chickens, with exceptions, in residential areas.
“It’s a matter of people being good neighbors, respecting the community, but it’s also a matter of letting people be able to own chickens if they want for healthy food reasons, as long as they’re respectful,” said District 18 Metro Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde, the co-sponsor of the bill on second reading at Tuesday’s meeting.
District 13 Councilman Carl Burch initially filed a bill that cleared up a quirk in the zoning code. According to a ruling by the Board of Zoning Appeals earlier this year, backyard chickens are allowed provided they do not become a nuisance.
The new bill filed by LaLonde and District 24 Councilman Jason Holleman would allow chickens in residential areas with the following exceptions:
— No roosters would be allowed;
— Chickens must be kept in a predator-proof enclosure that is at least 25 feet away from any residence and 10 feet away from property line;
— No slaughtering of chickens would be permitted and no breeding would be permitted.
“I think the issue was the law was just unclear and this, hopefully, clears it up,” LaLonde said.
Chickens would not be allowed on parcels with less than 3,750 square feet.
The bill filed by Burch would clearly outlaw cows, donkeys, ducks, geese, goats, horses, mules, peafowl, pigs and sheep from the downtown urban services district.
Council members say they have heard from dozens of constituents on both sides the issue of allowing backyard chickens.
In the last year, cities like New York, Chicago, Cleveland and Seattle have moved to allow and regulate backyard chickens.