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Chickens May Soon Be Permitted in Covington

Following a national trend, urban chickens could soon be free to cluck around Covington. The City Commission will vote Tuesday on an ordinance that will permit non-crowing fowl to be raised in the urban core. "It's a farm to table kind of concept right in the urban area," said City Manager Larry Klein, noting that growing one's own food in the city is not an entirely new idea. "My grandparents were German immigrants in Covington and my grandfather raised chickens in his backyard on Western Avenue, so it's not a completely new concept."

It's not a new concept to Austinburg resident Tim Everole, either. He and his wife, Chris, have been raising chickens on Maryland Avenue since the spring. In the summer, they were cited by code enforcement. "I got a letter in the mail that said I had fourteen days to get rid of the chickens," Eversole said. He said he was unaware that he was violating the law when he placed ten chickens in a fenced-in yard next to his rental unit across the street from the home that he and Chris renovated and live in. The current ordinance indicates that chickens cannot be raised for commercial purposes. Eversole thought he was in the clear since he was only using the chickens' eggs for himself and his neighbors.

The Eversoles, who own and operate the Bean Haus coffee shop at Findlay Market in Cincinnati, look at the mini-farm they have created as an improvement to the neighborhood. Five years ago six homes were set ablaze by a serial arsonist and the lot upon which the Eversoles' urban farm sits was used as a drive-through for unsavory visitors. "This was a drug traffic area. People used to drive through this lot. We were all about putting a stop to that," Eversole said. "We didn't do it maliciously. We just did it to improve our neighborhood and our lives."

Now he has what amounts to an urban farm on both sides of the street. His ten chickens peck the ground where peppers, tomatoes, green beans, strawberries, zucchini, and other vegetables are grown. Spices grown on the properties are used in ingredients at the Bean Haus. And even the Brussels sprouts crop can't keep the local kids away who love to play with and take care of their feathered friends, and as far as noise concerns go, the children are often louder than the birds. "The Chickens) are not big noise-makers," Eversole said. "They're pretty docile." The ordinance being voted on Tuesday forbids louder fowl, like roosters.

Eversole built a large, attractive coop that the chickens retire to when the sun goes down. It was constructed with materials found at the Covington Re-Use Center. He believes there are at least a dozen other Covington residents raising chickens in their yards and after Tuesday they can possibly come out of the coop, so to speak. The Eversoles haven't bought eggs in months since their chickens produce about a half dozen a day.

Across the street from the chicken coop, the Eversoles are cultivating another item for their pantry: honey. Fifty-thousand bees live in a small box near the pond in which the Eversoles keep several goldfish. Like the chickens, however, the Eversoles are ahead of the ordinance. Beekeeping is not yet allowed in Covington. He hopes to add a couple more boxes of bees that he expects to produce thirty to forty-five pounds of honey each year.

Also like the chickens, Eversole isn't alone. The Northern Kentucky Beekeepers Association, Eversole said, believes there are at least fifty beekeepers in Covington. He believes an ordinance allowing those beekeepers to come out of the hive, so to speak, will be considered at City Hall in the coming months.

Written by Michael Monks, Editor & Publisher of The River City News

PHOTO: Timmy, the Eversoles' neighbor, holds one of the chickens/RCN