Shawnee Dispatch

Shawnee approves changes to pet chicken ordinances

More Shawnee residents may soon be able to have chickens as pets in their backyards as the city considers changes to its chicken regulations. Enlarge photo

October 27, 2015

It's a good day to be a chicken in Shawnee.

The Shawnee City Council approved changes to city ordinances on Monday that ease restrictions on people owning chicken as pets in the city. Shawnee adopted policies similar to Roeland Park's in that chicken coops, runs and tractors can now be on any property as long they are 10 feet from the property line and 40 feet from a house or building. The council adopted several other changes that will allow people to get a permit to raise chickens more easily, but the distance factor was a topic of contention for months.

Shawnee's previous regulations stated that chicken coops must be at least 100 feet from all property lines. The council along with several citizens who voiced their support of easing the restrictions said that 100 feet from all property lines excluded most Shawnee lots from ever having the choice to raise chickens.

Shawnee resident Bailey Smalley took issue with the regulations in June, lobbying for the benefits of chickens as pets. She described how the trend of raising chickens as pets has been growing for about 10 years and she said that people are looking for sustainable ways to grow food and eggs. She said chickens not only make good pets, but they also provide pest control by eating bugs like flies and ticks.

Opponents of changing the regulations argued that chickens can be a nuisance. People voiced concerns about odor, noise and sanitation both in person at City Council meetings and by emailing some City Council members like Eric Jenkins and Mike Kemmling.

Both Jenkins and Kemmling voted for changing the ordinances to ease restrictions, but bring up the concerns from their constituents.

"There is a nuisance part to this," Jenkins said.

Adopted along with the new distance restrictions was a permitting process that requires chicken owners to renew their permits annually. Jenkins said this piece of the ordinance should ease concerns of residents who might be against chickens as it is a way to control any poor stewardship of the animals. Kemmling agreed with this and said the city has established enough safeguards to be able to enforce the new codes.

"No matter what we do, we have to enforce our codes," Kemmling said.

The new regulations state that people who want chickens as pets must meet the following requirements. They must build their coops with durable materials; coops must be enclosed on all sides; slaughtering of animals in public is prohibited; no roosters are permitted; and the person applying for the permit must reside at the residence. The coops must also allow for 10 square feet of room per chicken, with the maximum number of chickens allowed being 10. Home owners associations would be exempt from this ordinance and are able to make their own restrictions regarding chickens.

The council voted to exclude a provision that would've required 100 percent of neighbors' consent within 200 feet of the property.

Council Member Brandon Kenig said a requirement of consent would allow people to be excluded from the choice of having chickens based on "speculation" that they may be a nuisance. Other council members agreed, arguing that dog and cat owners do not need consent from their neighbors before they can bring a pet home.

Ultimately, the council voted 7-0 in favor of the changes.

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