Friday, November 28, 2014

Chicken tracks left through city rules

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 8/5/2013

Ottawa city commissioners will enter into their poultry discussion Wednesday night with a better idea of how their neighboring communities handle fowl.

Wynndee Lee, the city’s director of planning and codes administration, distributed notes about 11 neighboring communities to city commissioners at their study session Monday. The notes, she said, were compiled by Tom Yahl, city planner and codes officer, who is responsible for enforcing the city’s regulations regarding chickens.

Ottawa city commissioners will enter into their poultry discussion Wednesday night with a better idea of how their neighboring communities handle fowl.

Wynndee Lee, the city’s director of planning and codes administration, distributed notes about 11 neighboring communities to city commissioners at their study session Monday. The notes, she said, were compiled by Tom Yahl, city planner and codes officer, who is responsible for enforcing the city’s regulations regarding chickens.

Chickens are allowed within Ottawa’s city limits on lots of 3 acres or more, Lee said Monday.

On Wednesday night, city commissioners are expected to consider a proposed amendment to the city’s zoning regulations that would allow up to four hens or ducks to be kept on city lots smaller than 3 acres with a conditional-use permit. The city commission meeting starts 7 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 101 S. Hickory St., Ottawa.

A petition circulated by Chase Lebahn — a 22-year-old Ottawa resident who asked the city to amend its ordinance — garnered nearly 50 signatures calling for a hearing on the issue before the Ottawa Planning Commission. After the hearing, the planning commission voted 4-2 to recommend city commissioners deny the zoning change.

Anyone who had chickens on their property before Ottawa adopted zoning regulations in the 1970s can continue to house poultry on their property, regardless of how the city commission votes Wednesday night, Lee said. The catch is those residents must keep chickens on their property continuously, she said. Once a property owner no longer has chickens, they are no longer “grandfathered in” and must adhere to current regulations, Lee said.

The city has a few residents who still fall under the grandfather provision, Lee said.

“In the 1970s and 1980s there were a lot more [chicken owners], but they have dwindled through the years,” Lee said. “Now, there’s only a handful.”

The following notes, compiled by Yahl, describe how neighboring communities handle chickens.

• De Soto — Poultry is not permitted. Enforcement is complaint-driven, but there are few reports.

• Edgerton — Poultry is permitted but only on lots of 1 acre or more. Smaller lots can apply for a special-use permit. Enforcement is complaint-driven and handled by the codes enforcement officer. The city averages five to 10 reports annually.

• Gardner — Poultry is not permitted. Enforcement is complaint-driven, but there are few reports.

• Lawrence — Poultry is permitted, and is enforced by the animal control officer.

• Lee’s Summit, Mo. — The city has revised its regulations to allow up to six hens. Complaints are enforced by the animal control officer.

• Louisburg — Poultry is permitted, and complaints of noise, odor or animals at large are enforced by the codes enforcement officer.

• Olathe — Poultry is permitted on properties of 3 acres or more. Smaller, residential properties require a special-use permit, and roosters are prohibited. Numerous complaints have occurred recently, primarily resulting from roosters crowing. Enforcement is handled by the codes enforcement officer.

• Paola — Poultry is not permitted. Enforcement is complaint-driven, but there are few reports.

• Roeland Park — Poultry is permitted. Regulations allow up to six hens. Enforcement is handled by the codes enforcement officer. The city has received no complaints in the 18 months since the regulations were adopted.

• Shawnee — Poultry, including roosters, is permitted in residential areas, though the separation requirements for coops — 100 feet from property lines — restricts the ability to keep fowl in most residential areas. Enforcement is complaint-driven and handled by codes enforcement officers. Most complaints are attributed to roosters crowing. Violators are given 30 days to be in compliance.

• Topeka — Poultry is permitted under a long-standing regulation, and is enforced by the animal control officer. The city requires coops to be no less than 50 feet from neighboring residential structures. The city has no limit on the number of poultry. Topeka annually receives numerous complaints because of separation, odor, noise and animals at large, according to the animal control officer.

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