Morenci planning commission 2014.10.08

Morenci planning commission members didn't have too much to say Sept. 18 about the on-going discussion of whether to allow back-yard chickens in the city, but audience members had plenty to discuss.

Gary Valentine said people would live in the country if they wanted farm animals, but they choose to live in the city to avoid that situation. Many ordinances go unenforced now, he said, and additional time would be spent inspecting chickens when residents can simply go to the store and buy a dozen eggs.

Keith Pennington said the city would be taking a step backward to allow chickens. 

"Decades ago," he said, "the city converted all agricultural property to residential to limit what people could do with livestock within the City of Morenci."

Pennington said that he doesn't see any evidence of a public outcry demanding chickens. He also cautioned the group that if a change is made to allow chickens, other city ordinances will be affected.

John VanHavel offered support for allowing chickens. He said a small group of birds will not smell and raising chickens would offer a "wonderful educational opportunity."

Linda Dusseau expressed concern about the materials people might use to construct chicken coops.

Tim Decker told commissioners that if a property owner raises chickens, home insurance will be jeopardized, especially if eggs are sold because property would then be considered commercial. Decker claimed the city will have to appoint a department head to handle the situation of a pollutant escaping from agricultural property.

"I see a ton of negatives in this, but I don't see any positives," he said.

Kathy Schiermyer quoted USDA information that calls for more floor space per hen than what's in Morenci's proposal. She suggested that certain breeds of chicken should not be allowed because some are capable of flying over a fence. 

"I don't want to hear chickens clucking," she concluded.

Mayor Bill Foster said the commission needs to examine the issue since there were requests made.

"We can't just listen to the five people in front of us," he said, referring to those critical of the proposal. "We're not pushing it. We're discussing it. There's a lot we need to look at."

Planning commission member Sean Seger agreed.

"It's not our job to be a champion of it," he said. "There are a lot of concerns to investigate. It's not something we want to move forward tonight."

Commissioner Chip Connin said he knows of two families that have six chickens each and odor is not a problem. 

"It sounds like anyone who has a garden has a farm," he said in reference to remarks made earlier. "I think we're over-thinking this."

TURBINE—Planners approved a proposed wind turbine ordinance that limits large turbines to the industrial park. The proposal will now move on to city council.