Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Farm Animal Regulations at P&Z Tonight

The Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing tonight on proposed changes to the ordinances pertaining to the keeping of animals.

The current regulations regarding the keeping of animals, adopted in 1934, are both terse and restrictive:
The keeping of poultry and other species of birds, cattle, horses, swine, goats, and sheep within a distance of 200 feet from a dwelling is prohibited, unless authorized by the board of health.
These regulations would apparently bar even a farmer from having a chicken coop very close to the farm house. This regulation has always been puzzling to me, since many residents throughout the city, including downtown, kept chickens (and perhaps swine and goats as well). Especially during harsh economic times, such as 1934, chickens are the perfect animal: providing eggs, garden fertilizer, meat, all in exchange for eating all the table scraps and food waste. Still today, there are undoubtedly many backyard farmers who are unwittingly violating the 1934 animal ordinance.

The proposed new ordinance is much longer, and is more nuanced, applying different regulations to different types of animals. The Director of Health is given the authority to regulate animals which might pose a nuisance or public health hazard. Persons may keep animals if the following conditions are met:
  • Animals must be at least 25' from a property line, 75' from a well or water supply, and 10' from a public road.
  • Animals must be fenced appropriately.
  • Manure must be stored according to State statutes, must be 75' from a well or water supply, and must be managed to break up reproductive cycle of insects.
  • Each horse or cattle requires a minimum of 1 acre, each additional horse or cattle requires 1/2 and additional 1/2 acre.
The Ordinance Study Committee and the Board of Health have already approved the ordinance. After P&Z reviews the proposed changes, it will pass an advisory opinion to the Common Council.

Planning and Zoning meets at 7PM in Council Chambers. The public hearing is one of the earlier items on the agenda. There will also be a continuation of the Public Hearing on the proposed special exception for The Public nightclub on Main Street.

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