City hatching plan to allow chickens
By MAKAYLA TENDALL
The buzz of bees in Jefferson may soon be accompanied by the squawk of chickens after resident Joyce Allender asked the city council Tuesday to consider allowing chickens within city limits.
Allender said the bees are just a start and chickens would be a valuable and low-maintenance addition to agriculture in the city limits.
Agriculture is an important topic the city should invest in, she said, especially in a rural Iowa community.
Allender said the main reason she thinks chickens should be allowed within city limits is the knowledge and growth it will provide to children.
“When I came here, I substituted as an associate. I was amazed at the knowledge that these kids in a small community don’t have. They don’t know where their food comes from. They don’t know how to care for an animal; they don’t know how to respect a tree,” Allender said.
Allender said both farm kids and kids living within city limits will learn valuable lessons about the importance of agriculture and nutrition with the more interaction they have.
Allender, who was a special education teacher in Wisconsin and a nanny to an autistic boy, said she would take children to interact with animals, and the results were amazing, she said.
“If any of you are familiar with autism, the severe end of the spectrum is that they are very severely sensitive to touch. You don’t touch them,” Allender said. “When I took my animals out there, gradually that little boy began to touch just by being near the dog, the dog touching him while going past him.”
Eventually, she said, the autistic child she nannied began to act like other children, burying his hands in the mud and learning to accept the sense of touch.
“For an autistic student to do that is truly amazing.”
Jefferson resident Bill Smith said he understands the benefits chickens may bring, but he’s worried about the added nuisance of chickens for law enforcement.
“Bees are a different story,” Smith said.
City council members said guidelines would include a clean and contained facility for chickens; permission of property owners for renters; a limit to the number of chickens; and a distance requirement to respect neighbors.
Other cities in Iowa that allow chickens within city limits require a distance of 25 to 50 feet between pens and homes.
The council will pass recommendations on to the planning commission to be discussed at the next city council meeting.
In other action at Tuesday’s meeting:
• Pay increases were approved for the city administrator, city clerk, police chief, wastewater superintendent, water superintendent, park and recreation director, street superintendent and library director, in addition to the assistant park director and wellness coordinator.
Increases will boost salaries for the city administrator from $80,440 to $83,054; the city clerk from $53,047 to $54,771; the police chief from $58,223 to $60,115; wastewater superintendent from $53,872 to $55,623; water superintendent from $47,695 to $49,245; park and recreation director from $43,461 to $44,874; street superintendent from $49,473 to $51,081; and library director from $42,337 to $43,713.
• The council discussed a million-dollar engineering project to extend water and sewer to the northwest intersection of Highway 4 and U.S. 30 for the incoming casino.
MHF Engineering also requested an additional $4,600 for a $25,500 water main project at Vine, Wilson and Reed after inspections were done.
• Resident Bill Smith donated a speaker system to the council for use during meetings.