Glenwood council approves chicken ordinance |

Glenwood council approves chicken ordinance

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The City Council formally approved an ordinance Thursday that will allow residents in some parts of Glenwood Springs to keep backyard chickens.

“I do have to say that I have warmed up to this idea,” Councilman Leo McKinney, an early skeptic of the proposal, said before voting in favor of the ordinance.

The ordinance passed on a 5-0 vote, but is subject to a second reading at the July 19 council meeting before the new rules allowing chickens take effect.

The ordinance allows in-city residents to obtain a permit to keep up to six backyard hens for the purpose of providing fresh eggs and poultry. No roosters are allowed under the ordinance.

Chickens would only be allowed at single-family residences in the older parts of town, on lots of no less than 5,000 square feet. Newer subdivisions typically have their own rules prohibiting the keeping of livestock.

Chicken coops must also be constructed to certain standards. And, at the urging of wildlife officials, they are to be equipped with electric fencing as a deterrent to bears, foxes and other predators.

Although supportive of the ordinance, McKinney did say that he’d like to see the question go to a citywide election.

“These kinds of things are better left to the community to decide,” he said. “For some people, they don’t move into town to live next to farm animals. I do think it’s something we should vote on as a community.”

But McKinney said the one argument that resonated with him is that dogs can be just as disruptive in residential neighborhoods, if not more so.

“Chickens probably don’t match up to that impact,” he said.

Mayor Matt Steckler said the issue has been open for discussion for more than a year now, and the ordinance has been fully vetted.

“We are doing our duty as representatives of the city to make the decision on this,” he said of the notion that it should go to an election.

City planners will come up with a fee structure for the permits. Any city residents who already have chicken coops will be required to obtain a permit, Glenwood Springs Community Development Director Andrew McGregor said.

“The cost of the permit will be based on an accounting of staff time involved,” he said.

Councilman Stephen Bershenyi suggested a provision that would allow for a warning to be issued in the event of any violations, before a permit would be revoked.

“That just seems prudent to me,” he said.

By approving the ordinance, Glenwood Springs join other local communities, including Basalt, Carbondale and Rifle, in allowing people to keep backyard chickens.

In other business at the regular Thursday meeting, council:

• Approved an additional allocation of $80,000 from the city’s tourism fund to support tourism promotion efforts. The Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, which handles tourism promotion for the city, plans to use part of the funds to update the city’s “b-roll” video footage, according to Lisa Langer, the chamber’s vice president of tourism marketing.

The files are provided to any media outlets doing stories on Glenwood Springs, but the most recent videos, including aerial shots, were done in 2006 and 2007, and are not in high-definition format.

“The Travel Channel and others who request these clips do require that they be HD quality,” Langer said. The cost to update the files is expected to be about $25,000.

Additional funds are also needed to update the city’s tourism promotion website. Tourism funds come from the city’s 2.5 percent accommodations tax, which has been running ahead of projections for the year.

• Agreed to consider a possible resolution at the July 19 meeting enacting Stage 2 fire restrictions within the city, same as are in place in Garfield County and on U.S. Forest Service and BLM lands. The city supports the current county restrictions, but is not able to issue tickets for violations within city without council action.

“We are trying to keep the message out there to the public that the fire danger is extreme,” City Manager Jeff Hecksel said. “As it stands, we don’t have the ability to enforce violations of the restrictions until something happens, like a fire.”

By having its own enforcement, the city police can issue tickets to anyone violating the fire ban – this includes having open fires, use of fireworks, use of charcoal grills, and smoking anywhere outside of a vehicle or building.

“Just because the Fourth of July is over, it doesn’t mean the fire danger is gone,” Hecksel said.

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