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Chickens on agenda for city council
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HOISINGTON — On a topic that has ruffled feathers in Hoisington, chickens will be on the agenda for the 7:30 p.m. May 27 City Council meeting.
In April, resident Stacy Rae Walker approached the Hoisington City Council  to ask about allowing chickens in the city limits.
Currently, this is prohibited by city ordinance.
City Manager Jonathan Mitchell said the city ordinance prohibiting chickens was created in 1964.
In a letter to the council, Walker said that she would like to see the ordinance changed “to include hens kept as pets and for the purpose of laying and collecting fresh, healthy, sustainable, organic, antibiotic and hormone free eggs in a noncommercial capacity.”
Other cities have allowed chickens including Manhattan, Kansas City, Lenexa and Garden City.
In Walker’s letter, she included information about commercially grown chickens that live in cages. Home chickens would be able to eliminate pesticides and herbicides from eggs and meat, and provide natural pest control by eating fleas, ticks, grasshoppers, spiders, slugs and mosquito larvae. Chicken excrement would be used to fertilize gardens.
Social media erupted with people against the proposal, saying that chickens’ smell and some people wouldn’t keep cages clean, plus the fact that hen chickens cluck.
“I’m against it,” said Gerald Donovan, council member. “People say they’re odorless. I was raised on a farm and know they’re not. If we allow chickens we might as well throw out the ordinance,” and change it to allow for ducks and pigs.
“We don’t need to start it,” he said. “I don’t think they’ll get the number of eggs they think their going to get.”
Mitchell said roosters would be disallowed, but chickens are hard to sex, and residents may inadvertently buy one. Residents would be limited to 3-5 chickens.  He also said the council did have some concerns about the proposals.
The city manager made no staff recommendation. He suggested safeguards to the council in his letter to the council if they decide to move ahead with chickens. They are:
•Registration fees for coops and hens to recover costs of enforcement and education.
•Allowing for annual inspection of facilities and random inspections.
•Limit number of hens.
•Apply the number of hens permitted toward the total number of animals allowed. The current limit is six in any combination.
•Prohibit roosters.
•Establish suitable setbacks for chicken coops.
•Formal site plan review process.