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Rabbit restriction in Carbondale farmer’s crosshairs

Matt Kennedy knows he has too many rabbits.

Kennedy’s quarter-acre Carbondale lot has pens housing dozens of rabbits. He also has a greenhouse, gardens, beehives, and coops for poultry.

But when Kennedy, a chef and entrepreneur, started his urban farm and began raising rabbits over a year ago, no one had told him about an old rule in Carbondale’s code that limits households to three rabbits.

“I wanted to demonstrate sustainability through rabbits,” Kennedy said. “Rabbits happen to be the most sustainable meat source on the entire planet.”

Matt Kennedy and his daughter Aberdeen hold two of their rabbits in the backyard of their home in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent
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After being cited for too many rabbits, Kennedy wants to start a conversation about urban farming, and, hopefully, find a way to continue his work.

“When I started the project I did not know there was a limitation,” Kennedy said. He found out when code enforcement gave him the ticket.

Nearly a year ago, Kennedy had a fox kill three rabbits. He discovered it in the morning, but because he had to work in Aspen, he left the bodies on top of his compost bin. That triggered a complaint from a neighbor for violating another portion of Carbondale’s code.

“It wasn’t my intention to offend anyone,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy worked late that night and said he went straight to bed when he got home. The next morning, he had a note from code enforcement for violating the rabbit limitation.

Chapter 7, Article 6 of Carbondale’s municipal code states: “No rabbits in excess of three shall be kept by any one household within the town limits.”

Matt Kennedy walks out of the greenhouse located in the backyard of his home in Carbondale.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent
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That part of the code dates back to 1948, and was updated in 1972 and again in 2015, but it’s unclear if the number of rabbits has been adjusted.

When he went to the town for business license, his application specified that he’d be raising rabbits for meat.

He wishes someone might have directed him to the rabbit ordinance.

“I’m just as guilty for not going looking for it, but I didn’t know about (the ordinance),” Kennedy said.

The violation doesn’t have any fine specified, and Kennedy’s case hasn’t been heard in municipal court.

Matt Kennedy talks about the number of rabbits he owns.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent
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The Carbondale board of trustees agreed to consider changing the rabbit ordinance, but hasn’t set a date to discuss it.

“The board agreed to discuss that,” Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson said. “We have not set an agenda for that yet, but we will.”

tphippen@postindependent.com