By Tina Alvey
A woman’s bid to raise chickens at her Ronceverte home has failed to capture the approval of city officials.
During the two months since Christi Boothe asked city council to consider amending the law to permit her to raise chickens in a mobile coop in her yard, Ronceverte’s zoning commission has looked at the issue and asked for a committee to be formed to consider the measure, according to Mayor Gail White.
But when White asked council Monday for a motion to that effect, no such measure was put forward, meaning the “animals and fowl” ordinance will remain in effect as previously enacted.
The existing ordinance prohibits Ronceverte residents from keeping “any domestic fowl or pigeon or any swine or other animal... which cannot be or ordinarily are not kept and maintained as house pets.”
“I pray that there’s no hard feelings over this,” Council member Barbara Morgan said.
Greenbrier County farmer Jim Johnson, who serves as chairman of the county’s board of zoning appeals, spoke on behalf of opponents of changing the ordinance to accommodate chickens.
He warned council that changing the city’s law regarding fowl would potentially set a precedent for other changes down the road, and he said allowing such livestock to be kept in the municipality could pose health concerns. Johnson also questioned who the city would put in charge of enforcing regulations on vaccinating the chickens and keeping noise to a minimum.
“Law enforcement here is not going to be the chicken police,” Johnson noted.
He also cautioned that keeping livestock of any kind in the city limits would attract predators like coyotes.
“They’re going to be looking for a free lunch,” he predicted.
Boothe did not speak at Monday’s meeting.
White issued a brief report on the proposed community garden that is planned to take the place of the former Island Park public swimming pool.
Organizers say the site will allow for at least a third of an acre of garden space, which will include raised beds, in-ground beds and community beds, as well as an area for children to learn gardening skills and concepts.
Completion of the project, part of the city’s Eco-Community plan, is scheduled for spring 2014.
All interested persons are welcome to attend the May 28 meeting of the garden planning committee. The meeting will be held at City Hall at 5:30 p.m.
Also on Monday:
— Police Chief J.R. Byer Jr., reported that his department answered 339 calls for service/investigations in April. City officers made eight arrests and conducted 210 building checks/night shift security checks.
— City administrator Reba Mohler announced that the finance committee voted to discontinue the city employee vacation buy-out plan. After one final buy-out, employees will be expected to use their vacation time in the year in which it is earned.
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