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No more roosters in Camden?

Planning commission recommends change to city chicken ordinance

Posted: November 26, 2013 3:30 p.m.
Updated: November 27, 2013 5:00 a.m.

There’s a chance that roosters could be banned from Camden. At least, they could be banned from the city’s residential areas.

During its Nov. 19 meeting, members of the Camden Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend that Camden City Council amend a part of the city’s zoning ordinance to do just that. According to City Planner Shawn Putnam, the current ordinance allows people living in residential areas to have up to 10 chickens on their property.

“But there’s nothing specific about roosters,” Putnam said.

The planning commission took up the matter after what Putnam described as three to four weeks’ worth of complaints about a rooster crowing at all hours.

“They said the rooster was waking them up in the middle of the night,” Putnam said.

Residents actually filed the complaints with Camden Zoning Administrator John Burns.

“We had one situation that pretty much resolved quickly. They moved their chickens out. They were very cooperative after they were notified,” Burns said.

As far as he knew, Burns said while there are other chicken owners with roosters in Camden, there was only one generating complaints.

“I don’t know where they are,” Burns said, “but they haven’t been a problem.”

He said most of the complaints came from the Rectory Square area somewhere along Fair, Lyttleton or Mill streets.

Among Camden’s chicken owners is Flonnie West of Kirkwood Lane.

“During two weeks back at the beginning of the summer, I had a neighbor who complained, so I gave one of my roosters away,” West said. “I’ve got another one now, but it doesn’t crow but a little bit in the morning.”

West said even if she is grandfathered under the new ordinance, she wants to do the right thing. However, she said she would prefer to have at least one rooster.

“It would affect me,” West said of the proposed ordinance amendment. “I love hatching them out. The mama takes care of them, and I’m the momma. And I love having (roosters) crow in the morning.”

Like Burns, West also said there are other residents around downtown Camden who own chickens, including roosters. She said she didn’t know if the complaints were about any of those roosters. In the meantime, she’s worried about some other animals: coyotes and foxes she said could attack her chickens that live in or frequent Kirkwood Common near her house.

“The city needs to do something about that,” she said.

Putnam said that since the current version of the chicken ordinance does not specifically address roosters, the city has been using its noise ordinance to talk to property owners about their crowing birds. He also said it might be some time before the planning commission’s recommendation makes it to city council.

“The commission is rewriting the entire zoning ordinance, so it’s still going to be a while,” Putnam said. “There’s so much stuff to go through. In some sections, they are proposing lots of changes. In others, not as much.”

He said since he and Burns have to work together on many of these changes, they are trying to balance their workloads to assist the commission in rewriting the zoning ordinance package.

The applicable part of Camden’s Code of Ordinances comes under Section 157.117 - Accessory Buildings and Uses. Paragraph (C) speaks to the location of accessory buildings. Subparagraph (4) deals with “domestic animal shelter and pens in residential areas for housing small animals.” 157.117(C)(4)(a) states that within residential zones, “pens and shelters may be constructed in accordance with the following restrictions for the purpose of housing domestic pets and small animals. This use shall not include a commercial training or breeding facility for small animals, nor shall it apply to large animals such as horses.” 157.117(C)(4)(b) speaks, specifically to the maximum number of animals per lot. There are only two sentences. The first states that the maximum number of dogs allowed per residential lot is three. The second sentence is the one about chickens, stating that no more than 10 are allowed per residential lot.

157.117(C)(4)(c) restricts such pens to the rear yards of residential lots while (d) deals with setbacks.

(The online version of this story has been corrected to show the correct street name on which Flonnie West lives.)

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