CENTERVILLE -- City council members have voted 4-1 to approve an amendment giving residents in certain zoning areas permission to keep chickens and/or rabbits for "recreation and family food production."
Residents with more than a half-acre in agricultural low, agricultural medium or residential low zoning districts will be allowed up to six hens or rabbits or a combination of the two.
Those wishing to keep the animals and fowl will be required to apply for a permit that includes name, address, total number of animals, a site plan indicating property lines and coop placement and dimensions, and a signature after reviewing required safe-handling procedures material.
Coops are required for protection from predators and must be detached from the home, six feet from any structure, 18 feet from adjacent dwellings and three feet from the rear or side property line.
They must be big enough to provide a minimum of 2.5 square feet, but no more than a total of 120 square feet.
Animals are allowed to be free-range, but it must within an appropriately fenced-in property, and hens must have their wings regularly clipped.
At an April 20 public hearing, several residents expressed an interest in raising the animals for reasons varying from egg production to education for their children.
"I look at it as an opportunity," said Centerville resident Donald Dean.
"I have three kids, and they can go out and see this cycle to go out and get fresh eggs from the chickens instead of picking up five dozen at Costco. They go out every day and see where these are coming from."
To offset concerns of outbreaks of disease or contamination, other provisions require that feed be stored in a rodent-proof container and that slaughtering and animal removal be done in accordance with sanitary and safety practices applicants must review when requesting a permit.
Initial fees for the permit and annual renewal fees will be determined at an upcoming council meeting.
In addition, roosters and animals that exceed the allowed maximum must be removed from the property within five months.
Council members agreed that code enforcement would be necessary to evaluate any cases that violate a nuisance clause within the amendment. Nuisances can include smell and noise.
"It falls under code enforcement control," said Community Development Director Corvin Snyder.
"There are two simple processes.
"First, a fine of $120 and a time frame to correct the problems assessed to you.
"The second is a class C misdemeanor, so if you continue to violate the code, it can go as far as that class C misdemeanor."