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Annette Copenhaver visited the Lebanon City Council last week in hopes that her chickens would be allowed to stay at her home to roost.
After a lengthy discussion, the council agreed to give her two months to find a new place to keep them.
When Copenhaver visited the council May 13, she asked if they would consider amending the city’s animal ordinance to allow chickens on three or more acres if they are contained. She noted that the current ordinance allows someone with three or more continuous acres to have a horse or cow.
Copenhaver said she has spoken with her neighbors and none of them told her they had a problem with her chickens.
“I’ve had them for years,” she said.
She added that she did not know there was a city ordinance prohibiting chickens in town until recently, and she shared photos of her chicken coop with the council.
Mayor Gary Crenshaw reminded the council that the city went through months and months of work to create its animal ordinance a few years ago.
“Just be aware, whatever you do here, you’re going to set a precedent,” he said.
Councilman Darin Spalding said the ordinance gets to what expectations people have for living in the city.
“The most complaints I get, I get on animals,” he said.
City Building Inspector John Thompson said he'd received a complaint about chickens that had caused some damage at the Lebanon Country Club golf course and another complaint from residents about chickens damaging their landscaping. Thompson added that he did not know who owned those chickens.
"The ordinance says no chickens, not even on three acres," Thompson said.
Mayor Crenshaw said he's received two complaints about noise around 5 a.m. City Attorney Kandice Engle-Gray said the most recent complaint she was aware of came from the county attorney's office, but she did not know the nature of that complaint or who made it.
City Administrator John O. Thomas said if the city changed the ordinance for chickens, then people who want other prohibited animals, like goats, may come seeking a change to the ordinance as well. He added that while someone's neighbor may not have a problem with their chickens, the people who live a few houses down might see it as a big issue.
He encouraged the council to keep the prohibition against chickens in town.
"It's in there for a reason, and I think it should remain in there," Thomas said.
Councilwoman Kate Palagi asked how many three-acre lots were in town.
Thompson estimated that around 15 lots were that size.
Copenhaver said she did have a place to move her chickens, if needed.
Crenshaw asked her how long it would take to relocate the birds, and she said around 30 days if the weather permits.
He suggested giving Copenhaver 60 days to move her chickens rather than revising the ordinance the city spent so much time putting together.
Councilman Jerry Abell made a motion to allow Copenhaver 60 days to comply with the ordinance, and the council voted 5-0 in support of that motion. Councilman Jay Grundy was not present at the May 13 meeting.
Crenshaw said he knows that may seem kind of hard for someone who takes care of their animals and property, but it's difficult for the council to bend and flex.
In other business:
- The council approved a noise variance for the Hoops of Praise basketball tournament at the request of Natosha Hayes and Marria Floyd. They said the tournament is planned from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. July 27 at Graham Memorial Park.
- The council approved noise variances for Chaser’s for May 18 and June 1. Both were from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.
In a related matter, the council approved allowing the mayor the option of approving noise variances in between council meetings. Crenshaw said he would still encourage people to come before the council if at all possible.
- Jeremy McGuire asked the council if it would be possible to build a concession stand with a storage area and restrooms near Johnson Field behind Centre Square. McGuire explained that the league does not have a climate-controlled area to store its equipment between seasons, and its restroom access is limited.
As long as no one has rented Centre Square, the restrooms are available for the teams to use, McGuire said. If someone has booked a reception, however, those restrooms are locked. If the league had its own restrooms, this wouldn’t be an issue.
City Administrator Thomas explained that whoever rents Centre Square facility is responsible for any damage that might occur, and if they allow the football players to use the restrooms, they could be held liable if those players caused any damage.
City officials explained that it may be difficult to build a concession stand on the Centre Square property because it would have to be approved by the Kentucky Heritage Council. Engle-Gray said even if the heritage council went along with the plans it could take a while before the league received final approval.
Thomas said the county owns nearby property, and youth football officials may want to ask the Marion County Fiscal Court about possibly building on their property, which would avoid needing approval from the heritage council.
- Thomas commended the city workers who helped with the Color in Motion 5K on May 11.
Crenshaw said he knew the fast food restaurants were full, and Lebanon Aquatic Center Director Charlsie Garrett said she knew Ragetti’s was full Friday night.
Thomas added that clean up after the race wasn’t too difficult.
- Lebanon Police Chief Wally Brady reported that his department has collected and destroyed 15 pounds of unused prescription medicines.
Brady also reported that moving the prom to the high school made the event safer, and it required fewer officers. Last year’s prom at Centre Square required 10-12 officers and required $800 in overtime. This year’s prom required two officers and $224.25 in overtime.
- The council approved a resolution to accept road aid of around $140,000 from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
- The council approved the first reading of an ordinance to change to zoning classification for property on W. Main Street behind Advance Auto Parts from B-2 (general business) to I-1 (light industrial). The council must approve a second reading and publish the amendment before it takes effect.