Friday, April 18, 2014

City plucks urban chickens change in 4-1 vote

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 8/7/2013

Chickens will not be taking roost in Ottawa.

Ottawa city commissioners voted 4-1 Wednesday to endorse a planning commission recommendation to deny a proposed amendment to the city’s zoning regulations that would have allowed up to four hens or ducks to be kept on city lots smaller than 3 acres with a conditional-use permit.

Chickens will not be taking roost in Ottawa.

Ottawa city commissioners voted 4-1 Wednesday to endorse a planning commission recommendation to deny a proposed amendment to the city’s zoning regulations that would have allowed up to four hens or ducks to be kept on city lots smaller than 3 acres with a conditional-use permit.

A petition circulated by Chase Lebahn — a 22-year-old Ottawa resident who asked the city to amend its ordinance — garnered 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.

Because the planners’ vote was split, Blake Jorgensen, city commissioner, said the planning commission did not give the city a clear mandate. Because Jorgensen had a “bias” in favor of chickens, having grown up on a farm with fowl, and because a special-use permit would allow the city to look at each application on a case-by-case basis, Jorgensen said, he would be voting in favor of less intrusive city government by going against the planning commission’s recommendation to deny the zoning amendment.

The other four commissioners, however, voted to accept the planning commission’s recommendation for denial.

Mayor Sara Caylor and other commissioners commended Lebahn for the research and time he put into bringing this proposed amendment before the city.

“You went about this in the right way,” Caylor said.

Caylor, however, said she talked with numerous residents at 14 neighborhood parties across the city for National Night Out July 30 who were “overwhelmingly against” allowing chickens.

“Time and time again, I heard them say, ‘It would be OK, but not in my backyard,’” Caylor said.

She said those comments convinced her that her vote should be to deny the proposed amendment.

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