The Milton City Council approved Tuesday first readings of two ordinances, one allowing residents to keep chickens and a second allowing residents to keep bees.
Both ordinances, with some adjustments, will return for a second reading likely on July 21.
Before opening a public hearing, Mayor Anissa Welch said she had received several emails in favor of urban chickens and none in opposition.
Resident Karl Thompson expressed a desire to keep more than four chickens, noting that his family eats seven eggs per day and chickens do not always lay eggs daily.
Pointing to setbacks of 25 feet between coops and residential lots or structures as outlined in the ordinance, Molly Thompson asked if a garage counted as a residential structure.
City Administrator Al Hulick said the setback of 25 feet would not apply to garages and other auxiliary buildings.
He said a permit is intended for the keeping of the chickens and not meant as a building permit for a coop. The city does not issue building permits for doghouses, he said.
“I think this ordinance needs to go back to the drawing board,” a resident said. “Chicken manure can travel a long way because it is so high in ammonia.”
Council member Theresa Rusch said she had received communications from residents both for and against the ordinance. Those who opposed the ordinance cited smell, roaming chickens from neighbors’ yards, concerns about an enforcement process and manure disposal.
Council member Lynda Clark, too, asked about disposal: “Is that a garbage thing?” If people have complaints, she asked, should they call the police?
Cat litter is disposed of in the garbage, council member Larry Laehn said.
Language within the ordinance stipulates that neighbors of those applying for a chicken-keeping permit would be notified and could request a public hearing about permits on an “applicant-by-applicant” basis, Hulick said. Code enforcement issues would be handled in the same manner as any other code enforcement issue, he said.
The proposed beekeeping ordinance underwent a similar process, with several speaking in favor of beekeeping within the city.
A resident explained that hives, as they become more productive, grow by stacks. He suggested limiting stacks might be applicable when considering hive size.
The ordinance allows two hives per keeper.
Residents asked for clarification regarding training. The ordinance asks for “verification.” A resident asked if it would suffice to read a book or should she take a class?
Laehn said classes, completing in certification, were available online.