City lays egg on chicken request

Council kills issue by simply not voting on it


Joyce Allender’s goal had simply been to bring her family into the city limits intact — chickens and all.

But the process of making sure she could legally house the chickens in Jefferson has been a rocky one — and after the city council failed Tuesday to vote on an amendment to the Jefferson Zoning Regulations that would have smoothed the way somewhat, Allender’s goal became a little more difficult.

Coming at the recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission, the amendment would have allowed residents to apply for an exception to the zoning regulations, pending approval from the Board of Adjustment, to house limited numbers and types of livestock and animals within the city limits.

The change would not be a blanket approval; rather, the Board of Adjustment would decide each incident on a case-by-case basis.

The lack of a vote Tuesday means the law remains the same — in Jefferson, chickens aren’t welcome as long as they’re considered livestock.

“It sounds like I’m not even supposed to bring it up again,” Allender said Wednesday morning. “I’ve never seen such a drastic change. The last meeting, they were interested and smiling. I felt encouraged.”

This time around,  she added, “They didn’t even make eye contact.”

Allender is in the process of moving from a farmstead to a rental property at 102 E. Monroe St.

Her 12-year-old daughter, Conner, is the owner of three hens that she showed at the Greene County Fair.

The news of a $250 application fee — it covers legal fees, publishing and notifications and would be nonrefundable whether or not the board approved an applicant’s exception — gave Allender pause.

The three hens, she said, cost a total of $5.

The Planning and Zoning Commission had asked Allender to speak to the council on behalf of the change.

“I don’t know what kind of application is involved, but $250 to have three little chickens?” Allender asked. “Is that what you’re saying?

“At $250 a shake, I don’t think you’re going to have many people (applying).”

The cost is almost on par with her rent payment, Allender said.

“I’m not requesting attorney capabilities,” she said. “I’m just asking to have my family be able to move into town intact. Three little chickens.”

Although council member Lisa Jaskey made a motion to approve the change and allow the Board of Adjustment to consider exceptions, members Larry Teeples and Harry Ahrenholtz did not bring the issue to a vote, and the motion died.

“It’s perfectly fine with our landlord,” Allender said Wednesday.

She said she’s also addressed her neighbors about keeping the hens.

“If the people who would be most affected don’t care, what’s the big deal?” Allender asked. “I don’t understand the change in heart.”

In other action Tuesday, the council also discussed Main Street programs underway in Guthrie Center and Audubon.

“They’ve seen the success Jefferson is having with it, so that’s inspiring other counties around us to do the same, and it just make the whole area stronger,” Jaskey said.

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