Should chickens be allowed?

GLADSTONE – The Gladstone City Commission is looking for citizen input on whether or not to allow chickens to be raised in the city limits. Commissioners discussed the issue at their regular meeting Monday night.

“I built the coop for my kids and our birds before I knew that there was an ordinance. There are several people throughout the city that have them and I assumed (it was OK),” said concerned resident and chicken owner Nathan Belongie.

Currently the city’s animal ordinance does not prohibit chickens specifically, but it does prohibit exotic animals and other animals that are not household pets such as dogs or cats. Definitions used by the state classify chickens as livestock, however, the ordinance itself does not distinguish livestock from other animals.

“I personally believe there needs to be some clarification in the ordinance if we are going to continue enforcing it the way we are enforcing it,” said Commissioner Matt Gay.

Following discussion by the commission it was decided an online survey would be created allowing residents to voice their opinions on whether or not chickens should be allowed in the city limits.

The commissioners themselves had differing opinions on the place .of chickens within the city.

“Odor is definitely a problem. Roosters are a problem. They … escape a lot,” said Commissioner Dave Nemacheck, who noted that he grew up in a town where the majority of residents kept chickens.

Gay had a different opinion on how the city should approach the question of chickens.

“I personally believe it needs another look, otherwise are we suggesting that … those that would want to engage in that type of activity wouldn’t be welcome?” he said. He added it would be important for the city to create a place people wanted to live, especially if the city decided it needed to approach citizens with a millage increase as has been discussed at other meetings.

This is not the first time that the city has considered allowing chickens to be raised within the city limits. The issue was originally raised in 2012 when a resident approached the city with interest in raising chickens.

The city’s animal ordinance was adopted in 2007. City staff worked with the planning commission to create a proposed ordinance regulating chickens. After two drafts, the proposal was submitted to the city commission. However, in June of 2012 the commission voted 5-2 not to move the proposal to a public hearing, effectively ending the process until Monday night.

If the city takes up the question of updating the animal ordinance to allow chickens, the planning commission will once again work to draft the ordinance before it is brought to the city commission.