Note: This story was updated at 3:30 p.m.
The Oak Ridge City Council could consider a backyard chicken ordinance in May. If adopted, the ordinance could allow residents to have a small number of chickens, maybe up to a half-dozen hens, in places where they’re not allowed now.
Council is expected to use a Knoxville ordinance as a model. Knoxville allows domesticated chickens under an ordinance approved in 2010. An annual $25 permit is required to keep the birds, up to six chickens (hens only) are allowed, and they must be kept in a fenced enclosure at all times. They are for personal use only, and the slaughtering of chickens is prohibited.
Knoxville also requires a $50 fee for a building permit for the fenced enclosure and for a required henhouse, which must be covered and predator-resistant.
The Oak Ridge City Council could conceivably have several options in May: adopt the Knoxville ordinance without any changes, adopt a modified version of it, reject it, or defer it or send it to the Oak Ridge Municipal Planning Commission for further review. Planning Commission can’t accept it or reject it but can recommend that Council do so.
Oak Ridge officials have 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. Two current Council members, Charlie Hensley and Ellen Smith, voted in favor of referring the proposal to the Planning Commission, which could have then consulted with interested residents and other city boards. The rejected resolution also would have directed former Interim City Manager Gary Cinder to draft an ordinance to amend the city code. [Read more…]