There won't be any chickens living in Erlanger yards.
At least not legally.
The city council put the issue to rest at its meeting last week, following a thorough report by Councilwoman Jessica Fette, who compiled the data from a survey put out by the city which received 179 respondents, 111 from Facebook, and 68 from the city's website. The majority of respondents said they were in favor of people owning chickens in the city.
SEE PREVIOUSLY: Chickens debated in Erlanger
Then Fette drafted changes to the nuisance ordinance that specified that a chicken coop be 50 feet away from a property line, along with other strict regulations for keeping chickens, but when she showed a map detailing which properties could have a chicken coop 50 feet away from a property line, she found that only 673 properties in the city could apply to own chickens. Another change was, to get permission from the city to own chickens, all of the neighbors adjacent to the property in question would have to sign a form indicating that they give their blessing.
Councilwoman Corine Pitts conducted her own private survey about the chickens, and said 85 out of 100 people opposed the idea, citing issues like salmonella, or that chickens could be a gateway to other farm animals in the city.
"One thing most of the people told me was that they like their neighbors and would probably sign the consent form, but they would be resentful," said Pitts. "I also talked to realtors and they said they would probably not disclose the fact of chickens, because they wouldn't be able to sell the house."
Other members of council were more forceful with their opinions, even though they complimented Fette on her investigative report.
"I have a problem with changing an ordinance that doesn't affect all the citizens," Councilwoman Patty Suedkamp said. "The code officers are totally overworked. It is one more thing on their plates. You're going to have neighborhood fights over this!"
"You can't legislate something over a possibility of neighbors fighting," said Fette. "I have a list of 673 people who can have chickens. If you are not on the list, you can't have chickens."
"I am here for the whole city," Suedkamp shot back, but Fette interrupted, saying that she was, too. "I'm not saying you're not!," Suedkamp stated.
"Somebody broke the law," said Vicki Kyle. "Now they have to do the consequences. It's not about chickens. I do not condone bad behavior. We have 18,883 residents in the city, and less than one percent responded to the survey. The way I look at it, we have to represent all the citizens. This to me is a nightmare. I don't believe in laws we can't enforce."
"We can have pit bulls and labs in the city, but we can't have a little old chicken?," asked Councilman Don Nicely. "Dogs stink, and they can be vicious. Erlanger is supposed to be a friendly city. Ask that lady (who wants to keep her chickens) if she thinks it is a friendly city. We shouldn't discriminate against this lady."
A resident, Vito LaCorte, spoke up, saying the responses of council were downright appalling to him.
"You should not be so dismissive of citizens," he said. "You should not be so punitive. You are supposed to be above that."
Former councilman Gary Meyer said it was a double standard to talk about breaking the law about chickens, when last year when the issue of trash cans came up, several council members said they didn't have their cans in the right place, but they weren't charged. He asked that council be open minded.
Mike Chisenhall told council they were opening a can of worms, that it would be hard to enforce, and that Erlanger wasn't an appropriate city for farm animals.
Laura Tallent told council that the World Health Organization has recently isolated 12 superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics, and one of those is salmonella. She questioned the ability to keep coops sanitary, and stated that even hens will crow, and that they are noisy.
Jeff Nicely said that if the city didn't regulate dogs like pitbulls and labs, it was silly to try and regulate chickens. He accused council of ordering a survey, and then disregarding it when it didn't yield they results it wanted.
In the end, Attorney Frank Wichmann suggested council make a motion to have one of the attorneys write up the ordinance with the changes, and then have council vote on it. The motion was made, and a roll call yielded 2 yes votes, from Fette and Nicely, and 10 no votes, which ended any chance of chickens being allowed in the city, at least for now.
Council also heard an ordinance which annexes 23.977 acres of land belonging to the Erlanger Lions club. About a half acre still belongs to Florence, but the rest will belong to the city of Erlanger if passed. Another tract of land, 7.597 acres on the other side of Cherry Hill, on the north side of Pine Tree Lane, will be annexed to the city of Erlanger.
Four properties, two on Cowie Avenue, at 3409 and 3410, and two on Division Street, at 433 and 437, are listed on a surplus property list to be disposed of by Municipal Order. The Cowie properties will be transfers without compensation for economic development, and the Division properties will be sold at public auction. Two Yamaha ATVs will be sold on electronic auction as per the municipal order.
Roseanne Nields from St. Elizabeth was in the business spotlight. She said the facility on Dolwick Drive will have 197 beds and have 359 employees who will bring in approximately $219,820 in payroll taxes through the third quarter. The facility will open in winter of 2017-2018.
Dane Balsman, from the Kentucky Fish and Wildlife, came to talk about a partnership with the city to be able to stock the lakes and ponds in Erlanger in trade for the city keeping up the lakes and policing them for garbage. Council is considering the partnership.
Justin Brinkman from the fire department, was recognized for 20 years of service, and Rob Hucker, also from Fire/EMS received a pin for 25 years of service. Sherry Hoffman received her 25 year pin, and CAO Marc Fields told council that Missy Andress will receive her ten year pin. Diane Brown also received her ten year pin. Todd Rice, from the police department, was honored for 30 years of service.
"Erlanger has been my family for 30 years," Rice said.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo: Councilwoman Jessica Fette gives a chicken presentation (RCN)