Madison County

Berea council moves forward with proposal to allow back-yard chickens

BEREA — Few feathers were ruffled Tuesday night as the Berea City Council heard no opposition to a proposal that would allow back-yard chickens to be raised in residential neighborhoods.

The council directed the city attorney to put the proposal into the form of an ordinance. Two votes on the ordinance will probably come in August.

Several residents asked the council to consider changing a 1918 ordinance so they could raise chickens for eggs.

"Raising poultry aligns with my sense of Berea," said Edward George Zuger III. "To be a Berean who is able to raise six chickens for one's ... sustenance, education and enjoyment is, to me, living Berean."

The current city ordinance allows as many as 25 chickens on a 1-acre lot, and they must be kept 75 feet from a neighbor's property line.

The amendment discussed Tuesday would allow up to six chickens "within a containment facility" located "at least 50 feet from the nearest residence or another property owner." The 50-foot distance requirement could be reduced by the Board of Adjustment if the neighbor grants written permission.

Council member Billy Wagers said a person should not be allowed to raise chickens without the consent of neighbors.

"I'd want to be asked before chickens went in next to me," Wagers said.

Residents who live in subdivisions with existing restrictions against chickens would not be allowed to raise poultry.

The proposal also prohibits roosters (hens will lay unfertilized eggs without a rooster).

The amendment as proposed included an annual chicken permit of $25. The council changed that to a one-time $25 fee.

Although some opponents have expressed concerns that back-yard chickens would attract predators and affect property values, no one in the audience spoke against the proposal.

Ashland, Bowling Green, Danville, Nicholasville, Richmond, Louisville and several Northern Kentucky cities allow poultry to be kept under specific conditions. Back-yard chickens are allowed in Lexington as long as they have some sort of coop or protection from the elements.

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