Chickens land in LS

jbeaudoin@lsjournal.comJuly 17, 2013 

Chickens and fans of the fowl can finally breathe a little easier in Lee’s Summit.

By a 5-3 vote July 11, the Lee’s Summit City Council agreed to amend an ordinance which would allow residents to house up to six chickens within 10 feet of their property line and 40 feet from another structure.

Previously, chickens were considered “livestock” and were not permitted within 400 feet of another structure.

These so-called “urban chickens” will now be welcome in town after nearly three years of discussion.

The vote, however, didn’t come without much banter and a few quips.

Council members debated everything from how chickens mate to the size and dimensions of coops located in residential neighborhoods.

In the end, dozens of residents that already own chickens in town, including David and Mary Bain, got what they were fighting for – the right to raise chickens without fear of confrontation with Animal Control officers.

Many of the councilmen weighed in on one aspect or another, including how chickens would count against the current city ordinance limiting each household to three pets (cats or dogs) and what kind of issues Animal Control has faced in the past with the birds.

“We impound chickens all the time. They run at large,” Animal Control Supervisor Rodney Wagner said.

“You mean, we have jail birds?” Councilman Allan Gray jibed.

Wagner acknowledged just 12-15 loose chicken calls a year, though.

Gray vowed to support the ordinance change, noting that residents’ asking to keep chickens on their property speaks to the diversity of Lee’s Summit’s constituency.

Councilman Derek Holland said it was important to remember that despite the council vote, the many Lee’s Summit home owners’ associations can still enforce its own set of rules regarding chickens.

Council member Kathy Hofmann had concerns about the size of the chicken pens, though.

“I came from a farm; I know chickens,” she said.

Hofmann was one of three council members, including Rob Binney and Ed Cockrell, that voted no on the measure.

While Bob Johnson voted to approve, he also had questions.

“I don’t know how clear this is or how it is (currently) being enforced,” he said.

Another 5-3 vote put Lee’s Summit among the most restrictive in the Metro area regarding rules and regulations on motorized bicycles.

Lee’s Summit Police Chief Joe Piccinini said the revised ordinance would necessitate the mopeds to have a safety inspection and insurance, and the driver would be required to wear a helmet and have a motorcycle endorsement. Motorized wheelchairs and scooters are excluded from this ordinance, he said.

Since the state of Missouri stopped requiring licensing of such bicycles a year ago, Lee’s Summit has been looking at the restrictions and possible new rules.

“Right now, officers are giving verbal warnings,” Piccinini said.

Despite opposition from a few residents who spoke at the beginning of the meeting, the ordinance passed 5-3 with council members Binney, Cockrell, Gray, Holland and Whitley voting yes.

In other business, Piccinini’s presentation on how police would utilize the proposed, controversial automatic license plate readers was delayed pending further investigation by city legal council.

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