Rifle residents who wish to raise more than a couple chickens or ducks will have to live on a lot larger than 5,000 square feet, regularly clean up after the birds and take other steps under an ordinance given first approval by City Council.
The city had recently received complaints from neighbors on West Sixth Street about odors, noise and other problems related to chickens being raised next door. Previously, any single or multi-family dwelling could have up to 10 chickens and/or ducks, without regard to lot size. Only female chickens are permitted, and there is no restriction on chicken species.
The ordinance, subject to final approval at the March 19 City Council meeting, limits the number of chickens and ducks on lots less than 5,000 square feet to two. Approximately 70 lots would be affected, according to a map provided by the city, mostly in the downtown area.
Police Chief John Dyer said there may be a few property owners who would have to either relocate their chickens to an acceptable-sized lot or get rid of the birds.
“Our goal is to work with people,” he added.
The city does not have a record of where or how many people are raising chickens, but the number is thought to be no more than a handful.
“We’ll continue to enforce this on a complaint basis,” added Planning Director Nathan Lindquist. “We’re not going to make a list of everyone who has chickens.”
Councilwoman Barbara Clifton said she had a concern that responding to complaints from neighbors could give that neighbor a chance to “cause problems if they’re pissed off at their neighbor who happens to have chickens.”
“It’s the same with barking dogs,” she added. “If we only respond to complaints like this, that gives leverage to someone who doesn’t get along with his neighbor.”
Also prohibited would be having any of the birds on multi-family lots. Currently, chickens and ducks are allowed on multi-family lots with a conditional use permit. And the ordinance requires chicken coops to be treated as a shed and located at least five feet from the property line.
Daily removal of chicken and duck waste and leftover feed and a prohibition on the use of table scraps as feed is also included. Slaughtering of chickens or ducks on site would not be allowed, only at a licensed facility.
The chickens and ducks must be kept in enclosures or fenced areas at all times. During daylight hours, they may be allowed outside of their chicken enclosure in a securely fenced yard. That yard must include a fence of at least six feet tall and also be in compliance with other fence requirements in the code. At night, chickens and ducks must be housed in an enclosure that includes a roof and doors that must be closed and locked. Windows and vents must be covered with predator- and bird-proof wire of less than one-quarter-inch openings.
The ordinance would also reduce the number of dogs and cats one person or a family can own from 10 to six. Up to 10 indoor domestic animals that have less of an impact on neighbors, such as reptiles or rodents, would continue to be allowed.
Other limits include one potbellied pig, three rabbits, five exotic animals or a combination of five domestic and exotic animals.