Chicken plan ruffles mayor's feathers PDF Print E-mail
Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor   
Tuesday, 20 November 2012 11:28
A resounding statement of opposition by Mayor Richard Edwards failed to deter four members of Bowling Green City Council from voting Monday night to move ahead with plans to introduce legislation that would allow backyard egg-laying chickens in some residential neighborhoods.
"Interestingly, the most vocal and pointed voices in opposition to a change in the existing ordinance typically have been citizens who have an agriculture or animal care background, who have cleaned a chicken coop as in my case, and who are simply aware of the many potential legal ramifications of a change in the existing ordinance. I call it 'but I want a goat type issue.'
"Clearly it is within your purview to consider a change in the existing ordinance and I respect your right to do so in opposition to what I perceive to be a clear-cut majority of voices against any change," Edwards said in a 10-paragraph statement during his report to council.
The mayor concluded "I sincerely believe that when the backyard chicken issue is weighed and applied to the whole of our community and our many interesting and varied neighborhoods, it will promote unwelcomed strains, relationships and concerns."
Edwards didn't use the word 'veto' in his statement and wouldn't after the meeting, but said he has heard many concerns from citizens, former Mayor John Quinn and mayors of other cities. Council's 4-3 vote to move ahead indicates it would be unable to muster enough votes to override a veto.
Council's official action Monday night, was to refer a draft ordinance to City Planning Director Heather Saylor for review before putting the legislation on some future council agenda.
"I move we cease work on the chicken issue forever," Fourth Ward Council Member Greg Robinette said. He was joined by Mike Aspacher and Robert McOmber in voting yes. Daniel Gordon, Bruce Jeffers, Sandy Rowland and John Zanfardino all voted no.
Jeffers said he still had issues with a proposed draft ordinance and a concern had been potential costs of enforcement. "I don't think the costs are likely to be substantial. I think we ought to go ahead."
Zanfardino said the revised draft ordinance "is probably more restrictive than at the last meeting, almost to the point of making backyard chickens impossible."
"I think the ordinance is unnecessary and not in the best interest of the community and deserves no more of our time," Robinette said. "Bowling Green has prohibited farm animals since at least 1975 and I see no reason to make a change."
Rowland said one of the people who has chickens in the city has told her that a city official told her on two occasions that chickens were legal in the city and because of that wrong information council needed to give consideration to the matter. "Our animal control officer is not overworked and should have the time. I don't see this is an expensive issue."
Edwards said he was unaware of Rowland's information.
Robinette said the law is the law and if wrong information was given, the city ought to say "we screwed up" and move on. "The solution to a misunderstanding is not to change the law."
"I surrender," Dr. Laura Sanchez told council. "I have decided to give Thelma and Louise (her two backyard chickens) to friends who operate an organic farm. I apologize for all of the trouble I have caused."
Ed Connell renewed his opposition to the proposal, concluding "It is incomprehensible that we're still talking about this."

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