An earlier effort to allow backyard chickens in Oak Ridge failed. This one succeeded.
On Monday, the Oak Ridge City Council approved backyard chickens in the second and final vote.
The ordinance change allows up to six female chickens, or hens, at homes in the city, possibly by August 1. Roosters will not be allowed.
Council approved a few amendments to the proposed ordinance on Monday, agreeing to not allow the slaughter of any chickens, as opposed to just hens, and lowering the building permit for a henhouse and fenced enclosure from $50 to $25.
The amended ordinance passed 5-1, with Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch casting the lone “no” vote. Council approved an earlier version of the ordinance in a 5-2 vote in May. City Council member Rick Chinn, who was absent from this week’s meeting, joined Gooch in voting against the ordinance in May.
Under the ordinance, henhouses and a $25 annual permit will be required. Henhouses will not be allowed in front yards. Hens have to be kept in a fenced enclosure at all times, and they must have access to a covered, predator-resistant henhouse.
The Oak Ridge ordinance is based on an amended version of an ordinance that Knoxville adopted in 2010. Officials have said Knoxville, which is about six times as large as Oak Ridge, has issued only about 60 permits for backyard chickens. They expect significantly fewer permits to be issued in Oak Ridge.
The Oak Ridge Police Department’s Division of Animal Control will issue permits for the hens, and the Oak Ridge Community Development Department will issue permits and inspect henhouses and chicken fences.
Oak Ridge officials had considered allowing backyard chickens before. In April 2010, the Oak Ridge City Council voted 4-3 against a resolution that would have kept alive a previous proposal.
But there have been significant changes in the city leadership since then, and there was much less public opposition this time. Also, some supporters suggested that other cities like Knoxville have demonstrated, in the past six years, that backyard chickens can be allowed without causing major problems.
Also Monday, the City Council approved an ordinance change that allows growlers, or tap beer to go. That’s a growing field in the craft beer industry, according to the city staff.
The ordinance change that allows growlers is part of an update to the city’s beer ordinance to comply with state law, add new provisions, and modify existing ones. It was approved 6-0 in the first of two readings on Monday. The second and final reading could be next month, in August.
Two businesses intend to sell growlers once the new ordinance is in effect, and other businesses could sell them as well, said Oak Ridge City Attorney Ken Krushenski and Senior Staff Attorney Tammy Dunn.
The ordinance change would allow businesses with proper permits to sell growlers as long as the containers are securely sealed. Growlers can be a half gallon or 64 ounces. (Learn more about growlers here and here.)
Read more about the backyard chicken ordinance on Page 97 of the City Council agenda here.
Read more about the beer ordinance changes on Page 87 of the City Council agenda here.
See previous backyard chicken stories here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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