Edgewood Postpones Vote on Chickens, Property Tax Hike
Edgewood City Council decided to table the issue of regulating chicken flocks in the city so that City Attorney Frank Wichmann can look at the new ordinance regulations
and how they match with the zoning ordinance that regulates dimensions and set backs for storage sheds.
The discussion on the fowl ordinance, which was drawn up by Wichmann and ready for the first reading, began by inviting audience members up to the podium to talk about the issue. It was noted that there were two emails received on the subject, one from Joyce Farro, a resident who is opposed to the whole idea, saying that if chickens are allowed, what about ponies, roosters and exotic animals? Another email came from William Stafford, a resident who, along with his wife, owns six chickens on a not-quite four acre plot on Belle Meade Lane. He also came to the meeting to tell council he believes his flock and the two others that predated his were considered pets and should continue to be regulated as such.
"Most people who name their pets don't eat them," he said. "In summary, as long as the neighbors don't complain about my pet chickens, I don't think the City of Edgewood should expend any resources on trying to regulate a non issue."
SEE PREVIOUSLY: Edgewood Family Brings Chickens, Possible New Law to City
He added again that he was strongly in favor of having small flocks. Council questioned him on how often he cleaned his coop and how he did it, and his answers satisfied council members. Councilman Rob Thelen said he thought people who get the chickens so far have been very responsible individuals who do their research and have a good motive for keeping the chickens.
This stirred Dennis Drew, a resident in the audience to voice his opinion.
"I don't get it, why would you want to go to all that trouble?," he asked. He added that he couldn't see the police enforcing the rules set forth in the ordinance. Wichmann said that it was a civil ordinance and the police would not be in charge of enforcing it.
A couple, Jesse and Jessica McDonald, came to the meeting to throw their support in favor of the idea of chickens. Jesse said it looked to him like it was a good hobby and he was definitely in favor of it.
Councilman Jeff Schreiver strongly thought, since there was no grandfathering clause which would allow those that already have chickens to keep the amount they have, that the ordinance should specify a higher number of chickens allowed, especially if the land was spacious enough for up to a dozen chickens, as in Stafford's case. Then the issue of the zoning ordinance came up, which regulates setbacks on storage sheds and the issue was tabled until Wichmann can compare the two.
In other business, the other ordinance set for a first reading at the meeting was to set the property tax rate. The current rate is $.235 per $100 of value, and Mayor John Link recommended that council approve the 4 percent raise bringing the new rate to $.244 per $100 of value, saying that the raise would amount to approximately $1.75 per month extra for residents.
Councilman Schreiver said that he didn't feel that he had enough numbers and information to make a confident vote in favor of a tax raise. Councilmembers Rob Thelen, Ben Barlage, and Nancy Atkinson agreed that they didn't want to raise the tax rate without seeing more numbers. Councilman Joe Messmer said he wasn't for or against it at the moment but he could see where getting some money ahead for projects instead of waiting until right before city services have to be cut would be worthwhile.
Mayor Link explained that the current road and infrastructure projects going on in the city will cost $9 million for the entire project. Redoing Dudley Road alone cost $3 million, and the city had to pay that off before borrowing the money for the Lyndale/Edgewood road project.
"We are getting by, but just barely," he told council. "Raising the tax rate will help us stay on top of it. If you don't take it (the tax hike) you lose it. You never get it back."
In the end, Wichmann gave council another option, that of hearing the first reading of the ordinance, and if the numbers and data do not support what council wants to do, they can amend or delete numbers. Council set up a special meeting just in case they wanted to discuss the matter further.
State Representative Diane St. Onge came to the meeting to relate what was going on in the state legislature. She told council that everyone wanted to fund the teachers' retirement fund but that legislators were trying to find where the money was going to come from. She talked about the heroin bill and the efforts going on in the Northern Kentucky area to help addicts get the help they need.
Mayor Link asked about the 911 issue and she explained that the issue had been going around for years the legislature was going to have to decide on one solution and act on it. She said she realized that this was an important issue that hit all communities.
Finally, council voted to cancel the September 7th meeting due to the fact that it is Labor Day.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor