City officials are mulling over the idea of allowing poultry to be raised within Frankfort city limits.
While the idea didn’t have enough immediate support to keep the discussion going during Monday’s work session, Commissioner Bill May says he was surprised to see how many cities allow the farm animals to live the city life.
In recent years it has become a trend for urban areas to allow small chicken flocks on residential properties within city limits.
Commissioner Sellus Wilder brought the discussion to the table in December after commissioners created a list of ordinances they wanted to adopt.
“The ability to produce your own food in your own space is a really just a basic human right – for me, it’s really that cut and dry,” Wilder said Monday.
About 40 cities in Kentucky either allow poultry to be raised with regulations or simply do not ban the practice.
However Commissioner Michael Turner says he could see this turning into a “bureaucratic nightmare.”
“I agree you should have the right to grow your own food, but I think it would be a major shock to our system,” he said.
Wilder says he is interested in adopting an ordinance similar to Lexington’s. Under its terms, residents are allowed to keep up to six chickens no matter the property size.
“Most urban areas are heading in this direction, essentially allowing a few non-crowing chickens on private property,” Wilder said.
“I think outlawing them strikes me as kind of arbitrary, it doesn’t strike me as making any more sense than outlawing dogs or cats or vegetable gardens.”
Wilder says a non-crowing chicken is quieter and neater than a family’s pet dog.
The city allows certain farm animals to be raised inside city limits as long as the property is at least 5 acres, said Gary Muller, director of planning and zoning.
In January 2008, the City Commission redefined how the city classifies farm animals after a debate over a pet goat named Szokie.
The city asked the owner to remove the then 3-year-old goat from its residence at 253 Rancho Drive after a neighbor complained.
The city’s zoning update committee deliberated the topic, and it decided livestock – including chickens – belonged on a property with 5 acres, “which takes out majority of the residential properties in town,” Muller said Monday.
Turner said the zoning codes and ordinances would need to be amended again to allow chickens on city properties.
“I’m not going to say there is going to be a rash of people who are going to raise a lot of chickens that are going to raise a lot of turmoil, but I can see us going back into that thing of tit for tat,” he said.
Turner says he’s also hesitant because he doesn’t know how the city would enforce the regulations without creating new framework and work for animal control.
“I just see it snowballing into an issue,” Turner said.
Commissioner Katie Hedden and Mayor Gippy Graham were against the idea without discussion. May says he is undecided on the issue, and is seeking more information.