The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Chickens: commission to move forward to allowing yard fowl

Move will take time as numerous zoning changes and ACO policies considered

 


Chicken lovers rejoice: a move by city officials to allow keeping fowl in residential neighborhoods is moving forward according to a report to the city's planning and zoning commissioners.

Lisa Von Bargen, head of the city's economic development department, told the P&Z commissioners last week that her office intends to move ahead with a draft ordinance that will allow chicken keeping in residential neighbors that currently require a Conditional Use Permit, or CUP.

The move comes after the commission held a public meeting on the topic in late March.

"The public hearing resulted in significant feedback, the majority of which was in support of allowing this use," Von Bargen's report said. "Since the hearing the department has received one additional email objecting to proposed change.

Given the amount of positive feedback the staff is planning to bring a draft ordinance to the Commission."

Despite Economic Development's intention to move forward with an ordinance for the commission to consider, those hoping to be able to begin chicken-keeping in town and the outlying subdivisions where it is currently prohibited should be prepared to wait awhile.

"This will take a little time as it is more than just amending the zoning code," Von Bargen said. "The Animal Control Officer (ACO) will be responsible for enforcement of the use. Therefore the Animal section of the Valdez Municipal Code will also need to be amended."

For those opposed to the idea of their neighbors keeping chickens, the sky is not falling.

In addition to the significant amount of time it will take to craft an ordinance to bring to the commission, the city will also be required to post a public notice and make contact with the households it initially contacted for the first public hearing - nearly 900 property owners.

"Please expect the public hearing on this item sometime in May," Von Bargen said.

The public hearing gives anyone the chance to address the commission and give their opinion on whether or not they agree with the new ordinance.

If the commission gives its stamp of approval by recommending the city council adopt the ordinance, it will go before council for an additional public hearing before council can vote to approve or deny the ordinance.

Von Bargen said in her report to the commission that her office was moving forward with the proposed ordinance because while there was testimony against allowing chickens in residential areas, most of the public feedback was in favor of allowing the practice.

During the March hearing, the pro-chicken crowd cited food independence, educational opportunities and other benefits of chicken keeping and urged the commission to move forward with an ordinance.

Those opposed to keeping chickens in residential areas worried that chicken feed - or actual chickens - could attract more predators to areas they said already had problems with wildlife such as bears, among other objections.

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