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Fair Or Fowl: Board of Aldermen Debate Chickens

Board will vote on chicken ordinance at next meeting.

Chickens will soon find out if they are welcome in St. Peters, but if Thursday’s Board of Aldermen meeting is any indicting the feathered birds may be out of luck. In late 2010, a resident requested permission to build a chicken coop in his backyard for a 4-H project. The city of St. Peters researched the idea and first proposed allowing chickens inside city limits during a February joint session meeting. Thursday night during the Board’s work session, the Aldermen discussed the issue for the first time. Cathy Pratt, St. Peters’ manager for engineering and development services, presented a draft ordinance that would allow up to four chickens to be allowed in residential areas with a variety of restrictions. The chickens would have be in a uniformly built coop and placed within a certain distance from the house in the backyard. Unlike at the joint session where the response was mostly positive, the Aldermen raised some objections. Patrick Barclay, Ward 4,  said he has already heard some complaints from residents. “We have heard from the trustees of the subdivisions and most do not allow this,” he said. “There have been about 10 that don’t want us to go along with this. Until there’s a bigger demand, I don’t think I’ll go along with this.” Alderman Dave Thomas, Ward 1, said he hasn’t heard any support of the chicken issues. Thomas, who said he grew up on a farm around chickens, asked his neighbors if they would would let him adopt a few birds if the ordinance was passed but he was told it wasn’t allowed in his neighborhood. Tommy Roberts, Ward 3, said there was really nothing to lose by approving the ordinance. “We need to review it after a year,” Roberts said. “… If it’s not working for our community, then we’ll get rid of it. But I think it’s fair to give it a shot.” Ward 1 Alderman Don Aytes injected some humor into the conversation near the end of the discussion. “Young man, you sure you don’t want to grow rabbits?” he said. “If rabbit is fixed right, it’s better than chicken.” Jerry Hollingsworth, Ward 2, was concerned with the wording of the proposed ordinance. In his view, the restrictive nature would rule out just about everyone. He said the numbers just didn’t add up—that a coop placed a certain number of feet away just isn’t possible in most backyards. The Board voted 7-1, with Barclay as the lone no vote, to put the ordinance draft on the agenda for the Feb. 24 Board meeting. OTHER BUSINESS The Board approved the Capital Improvement Plan with an 8-0 vote. With an 8-0 vote, the Board authorized the City Administrator of the City of St. Peters, Missouri to issue a purchase order for the procurement of asphaltic concrete materials for city projects. The Board will vote on a change order for the Salt River Road project at the next BOA meeting. The change order includes a second off ramp from Interstate 370. Russ Batzel, St. Peters manager of public works and services, said the Salt River Road/370 Project is on schedule to be completed by June 15, 2011. The Board approved findings of fact for the rejection of two special work permits. At the last BOA meeting, the Board rejected permits for Exit 6 Pub and Brewery and Spencer Road Storage. The Board was presented a report on the previous fiscal year. At the next Aldermen meeting, the Board will decide on new parking projects in Old Town. For $15,000, the city can create 28 more spaces.

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