City council decides not to consider an ordinance to allow chickens in city

Bardstown City Councilman Roland Williams listens to discussion about the draft ordinance that would allow city residents to raise a limited number of chickens.


Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Monday, April 30, 2018 — Bardstown residents who raise chickens in the city limits will continue to run afowl of the law after the council decided Monday that it would no longer consider an ordinance allowing residents to raise a limited number of chickens.

The council discussed at length the draft ordinance that would allow residents to raise chickens. In the end, their decision was that approving chickens in the city limits had the potential to create too many problems.

Councilman John Kelley said that due to the potential for noise complaints, he would not support any ordinance to allow city residents to raise chickens in the city limits.

A FLOCK OF ISSUES. The council’s discussion included each council members’ discussions, emails and research on the issues surrounding raising chickens in an urban setting.

The initial draft ordinance allowed 12 hens, a number that the council members earlier had cut to six. But on Monday, several council members said they would not approve an ordinance that would allow more than four chickens per residence.

The probability that chickens would lead to nuisance and noise complaints dominated the council’s discussion.

Councilman John Kelley said he had exchanged emails with someone who raises chickens, and he had learned that hens make a certain amount of noise after laying eggs, and that some noise cannot be avoided when you keep chickens.

“It looks like any ordinance we approve could be an enforcement nightmare,” Kelley said.

Kelley said he original felt that chickens could be accommodated in the city, but said he would not support an ordinance to allow raising chickens.

Councilman Roland William noted that the ordinance specifies the number of chickens allowed, which would wind up forcing the city’s code enforcement officer to count chickens when handling a chicken complaint.

Councilman Roland Williams, left, and City Attorney Tim Butler review documents prior to the start of Monday’s noon-hour special city council meeting.

The $100 annual permit to raise chickens won’t generate enough revenue to pay the costs of enforcing the ordinance, Councilwoman Kecia Copeland pointed out. The city’s code enforcement officer — a part-time employee — already has enough to deal with without adding to his work load.

The council discussed revising the language in the ordinance in an effort to gain council approval. Those issues included the height of the chicken coop, distance from the property line and noise. Kelley said the potential noise issue was one that in his view could not be fixed.

Mayor Dick Heaton asked the council if it would support the ordinance if the language and provisions could be modified. The council members each said they could not support the ordinance, regardless of how its language was changed. In the wake of their discussion, there will be no first reading of an ordinance to allow chickens in the city limits at Tuesday evening’s council meeting.

Late Monday, City Clerk Mary Riley issued an amended agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting that deleted consideration of the that ordinance.



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