“I don’t want my children out playing in the yard, knowing people down the street have chickens attracting wildlife,” said member Elaina Beeman, who moved that fowl be entirely banned.
Joining her in the 5 to 5 vote were members Frank Brown, Joel Holcombe, Terry Jones and Ronnie Kilgo. Members who didn’t want to go that far were Logan Boss, Charles Jackson, Nathan Roberts, Christian Terry and Craig McDaniel.
“If you don’t know your neighbor has them, I don’t know how much we should interfere,” Roberts said.
Currently, the ordinance allows residents to seek a special use permit if they want to have livestock in the city. Chickens are defined as livestock in the zoning code.
The Rome City Commission had asked the board of citizen-appointees for a recommendation on if a change is needed to accommodate what appears to be a growing trend.
Roberts argued for retaining the permit requirement and adding a host of conditions — such as large lots, screened yards, concrete flooring for the coops and at least 30 feet between a pen and a property line.
Brown said the vagueness of the existing ordinance is probably better protection than lengthy regulations.
“I’m concerned that we’d paint ourselves into a corner, because we may get technical approvals that are not appropriate for a neighborhood,” he said. “Each application should be left up to the judgement of the (City) Commission.”
The issue now moves to the Rome City Commission, which is expected to put the question to rest at its Jan. 14 meeting. The board has twice rejected proposals aimed at regulating a practice that exists without sanction in the urban area.
Chris Lewis — who applied for a special use permit after his Hycliff Road neighbors objected to the hens he’s had for years — was the sole supporter to speak at Thursday’s public hearing.
Ten residents, mostly from his Fair Oaks subdivision neighborhood, attended to voice opposition. Ronald Lynch said his Cleveland Avenue home is beset by loose chickens, and entrails from slaughtered livestock have been dumped on his property.
In other actions, Planning Commission Chairman Ronnie Kilgo appointed Jackson, Jones and Brown to a study committee on micro-distilleries.
The city and county recently approved rules that let farmers and others distill ethanol for fuel, but it does not apply to consumption-grade alcohol. A Cave Spring resident said there are already four craft distilleries in Georgia that double as tourist attractions.
Federal and state licenses also would be required.