ROY -- The city council has a lot of opinions about chickens, bees and rabbits, but none clear enough to decide whether they will be allowed throughout the city.
The council had a lengthy discussion after viewing a possible amendment from the planning commission regarding domestic livestock and fowl in residential zones.
The planning commission has discussed the issue since a resident petitioned the city this past summer. Currently, bees, chickens and rabbits are only allowed in the half-acre or more agricultural zone in the west end of the city.
The proposed amendment allows for the animals in single-family zones, but rather than based on zone, it is based on lot size. Lots must be at least 8,000 square feet to have any of the livestock or bees, said City Planner Jared Hall.
Furthermore, points are assessed by lot size as to how many of each creature residents can have. No roosters will be allowed, and maintenance requirements were also written into the proposal.
City Councilman Dave Tafoya wondered why the city is even thinking of changing the ordinance. "We already allow these things in the city ... for me, I don't see why we need to be changing it."
Tafoya said he has received numerous emails against the idea.
City Councilman Brad Hilton said while he doesn't necessarily oppose the change, he feels like it will be an enforcement nightmare.
Hall thinks otherwise. As the city planner, he has volunteered to oversee the enforcement side. He doesn't see that there will be a huge rush of people to apply for permits, and those that go to the trouble of raising the chickens and bees will be happy to comply.
He noted that the city already has many residents who raise chickens, rabbits and bees that aren't in compliance. Those situations won't go away, whether the city allows them or not. "We just don't have a way to let those that want to come in to compliance," Hall said. "I think we can do this."
Councilman Willard Cragun agrees. He thinks that having bees will also help to revitalize fruit and vegetable crops, and he has had residents who are very interested in taking part.
City Councilman Michael Stokes wasn't at the meeting, but texted some information that City Manager Chris Davis shared with the council. Stokes would like nothing more than to see an amendment allowing for the animals and bees in all zones. He would even like the amendment to be more open than it is, but is willing to compromise to help it to pass.
City Councilman John Cordova sees both sides, but would like to pursue it further, because of all the work the planning commission has put into the measure. He noted that they have looked at all sides and seem to have thought things through thoroughly.
The council asked the planning commission to put together more information about dealing with waste, look at the lot sizes more specifically and make sure that it will be enforceable.
After the meeting, resident Joe Marrero, who wants to be able to keep bees, was hopeful. He suggested the city appoint a citizen's committee that would help make sure people are in compliance and offer advice and help to those wanting to get involved with beekeeping.
"It's been a long process, and I always feel hopeful," he said with a smile.
He hopes the council reaches consensus by early spring so he can get his bees ordered and be on track for spring beekeeping.