Council hens and haws over fowl regulations |

Council hens and haws over fowl regulations

Heather McGregor
Post Independent Editor
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – City Council members were split Thursday on whether to permit residents to keep backyard chickens, so they asked pro-chicken residents to come back with a detailed proposal.

“I’d like to see more of a voice from the community to give us some direction,” said Mayor Matt Steckler. “We need something more than just, ‘We want to raise chickens.'”

“The folks that are interested need to get more organized,” added Councilman Todd Leahy. He called on the dozen chicken supporters who attended the meeting to research the options for permitting chickens and other backyard fowl and to “keep the conversation going.”

Glenwood Springs resident Jennifer Vanian, who offered earlier in the meeting to lead a committee that would guide, mentor and mediate for residents who want to keep chickens, agreed to organize the effort.

“I’ll make a positive and clear picture for you guys to know what to expect,” Vanian said.

“I like the idea of having farm fresh eggs at home,” Steckler noted, and offered to serve on the committee.

Vanian and other residents appeared before council last month asking the city to lift its prohibition on backyard fowl. The issue appeared on the agenda this week. City planner A’Lissa Gerum researched chicken issues for a report to council.

Chickens are part of the growing local food movement, she said, but they can create neighborhood conflicts over noise, odors and lot line setbacks. And in Glenwood Springs, she said, chickens would be one more lure for the bears, mountain lions and foxes that already prowl neighborhoods looking for food.

Gerum sought an opinion from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The agency said allowing chickens would result in more calls about bear conflicts.

“Adding another way for bears to get into trouble in town would result in no good for the bears,” the agency stated.

But a few residents appealed to council to lift the prohibition.

“The predators are here regardless of whether we have chickens,” said Mary Russell.

“It’s important to allow chickens in the city,” said Shane Beckley, 12. “It’s a great way to get fresh, healthy food, and we won’t have to waste gas to get the product.”

“The future is written large. We are moving toward more home-produced food,” said Laurie Raymond. She called on council to regulate backyard fowl using mediation paid for from permit fees.

Councilmen Leo McKinney and Stephen Bershenyi opposed the idea of backyard chickens, citing the potential for conflicts with predators and neighbors.

Bershenyi suggested a community chicken coop, similar to the community garden, that could be a single large enclosure where residents could have their own coops.

Leahy, Steckler and Councilman Mike Gamba supported the backyard fowl proposal.

“I don’t think we will attract more predators, and I don’t think we will be overcome with every other house having a chicken coop,” Gamba said. “I think we can just create the regulations allowing it and be done with it.”

Councilman David Sturges encouraged Vanian and other chicken supporters to do the legwork in developing city rules for chickens, rather than using more city staff time.

In other business, the City Council:

• Approved a rewritten resolution establishing the city government’s position on the Colorado Department of Transportation’s plans to rebuild the Grand Avenue Bridge. Residents Don Gillespie and George Wear wanted council to add language noting that the city still wants CDOT’s help in resolving the use of Grand Avenue as Highway 82. Council members rejected the advice and passed the resolution in a 6-1 vote. Sturges voted no, he said, because the resolution was developed with very little public input.

• Adopted a resolution to bundle ambulance service fees into a few flat fee levels rather than using a long list of itemized charges.

• Extended for two years a temporary provision allowing real estate agents to post extra signs for open houses.

• Approved $328,370 in added funds for the Glenwood Springs Downtown Development Authority.

• Approved spending $120,000 for a structural and foundation assessment of the Municipal Operations Center in West Glenwood.

• Approved awarding the remaining $8,622 in 2011 funds for Discretionary and Tourism grants. Recipients will be Sunlight Winter Sports Club, Family Visitor Program, Catholic Charities, Colorado West Recovery Center, Literacy Outreach, Mountain Family Health Center and Salvation Army.

• Approved an extension of the deadline for Xcel Energy to submit a special use permit application for its large transmission tower on Iron Mountain from Oct. 30 to a new deadline of Jan. 24, 2012.

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