After a lot of anticipation and patience Bereans now have a chicken ordinance.  Those who live in residential zones may keep up to 6 hens in their backyards if the city’s board of adjustments grants a conditional use permit.

In and a 7-1, the Berea, Kentucky city council adopted second reading of an ordinance making the keeping of chickens, but not roosters, a conditional use in residential areas of Berea, Ky.

Although the ordinance requires that all neighboring property owners and be notified of a chicken permit application, a neighbor’s objection would necessarily be sufficient grounds for denying a permit, City Administrator Randy Stone said.

“I think its a really good compromise ordinance.  It will protect the good chicken owners from the bad ones.” ~Berea Chicken Brigade member Katie Startzman

The ordinance requires that chickens be kept in a confined area at least 50 feet from structures on neighboring property. However, the board may reduce that distance if written consent is obtained from all neighboring owners and occupants.

Permits, which require a $35 application fee, will be considered only at the adjustment board’s January and August meetings, according to the ordinance.

The city codes enforcement office may inspect property on which chickens are kept if it has reason to suspect non-compliance with the ordinance.

“I feel pleased, I think the ordinance that was passed tonight was a such a good comprimise and it’s not really where we started.  It really demonstrates that the city listens to all sides of people who are are concerned,” said Startzman after the meeting.

Members of the sustainability movement in Berea originally had proposed amending the zoning ordinance to make the keeping of up to six hens a non-conditional use in residential zone. All they would be needed would be a permit from the codes office. After a first reading of an ordinance based on that proposal, however, it was amended to make keeping chickens a conditional use.