City Council increases Smithfield’s backyard chicken limit

SMITHFIELD — City Council approved an ordinance that will allow people to own more chickens at Wednesday night’s meeting. Before this amendment, Smithfield residents were allowed to own four chickens; now they are able to own up to 14 chickens in a residential area.

The number of chickens citizens are allowed to have is based on the size of their land. If an individual owns 8,000 square feet they are allowed four chickens, if the property is 20,000 square feet they are allowed up to 14 chickens.

Kristi Sparks brought the former rules of only allowing four chickens to the city’s attention. “I have four chickens and a family of nine,” Sparks said. “That is not enough eggs for my family. I want to have my own food production in case of emergencies.”

The council expressed numerous concerns about allowing more chickens within the city. “I’m not opposed to having chickens,” Councilman Mike Oliverson said, “but we need to consider the neighbors.”

The ordinance states that a chicken coop can not be closer than 25 feet from the neighbor’s dwelling and three feet from the property line. The chickens must be kept in an enclosed area; previously they were allowed to roam freely. The food must be kept in a “rodent safe” container. The ordinance also states that you must obtain a permit to own chickens.

The ordinance passed with a 3-2 vote. Councilwoman Barbara Kent and Councilman Oliverson voted no.

The council also considered adopting a land use ordinance for the land surrounding the airport. The ordinance would limit the height of any structures built in the area and require notice to future buyers that there are use restrictions on the land.

“I’m worried about the future value of my property,” resident Jeff Gittins said. “People need the ability to improve their land.”

The ordinance was not voted on because the council felt they needed to gather more information. Councilwoman Kris Monson said, “I would like to go out to the property and look at this more.”

The council approved changes to the current budget which they found to have an extra $17,000 that they chose to put into reserve for unexpected expenditures.

Published in cooperation with the Hard News Cafe. Original story is here.