Lebanon to allow chicken raising within city limits

Lebanon City Council overrode a city Planning Commission recommendation and unanimously to allow the keeping of chickens at single-family residences within the city limits.

The previous code regulated chickens as livestock and only permitted raising chickens in rural residential zoning districts.

Currently, all city homeowner associations (HOAs) ban backyard chickens. If the city allowed backyard chickens in the future, each HOA would have the option to allow backyard chickens, according to the committee.

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City Manager Scott Brunka had previously estimated this zoning change would affect 40% of single-family homes in Lebanon.

The committee recommended to council that no roosters be permitted, only hens. There would be a limit of six chickens per property and up to 12 on lots of one acre or more. The chickens would be a food source but could not be slaughtered for meat.

No chickens will be allowed in the Central Business District zone, and chickens would not be allowed at apartments or any other multi-family housing zones, according to the proposed code change.

City staff also recommended additions to the zoning amendment, including that chickens shall not roam off the property; and that chickens should always be kept in an enclosure or fenced area in the rear yard at least 20 feet away from property lines. There are recommended regulations on the type of coops that could be used as well.

The proposed code requires residents who want to keep chickens to apply for a zoning permit for an accessory use-chicken coop. Officials said the permit would not allow the permittee to engage in chicken breeding or fertilizer production for commercial purposes.

Chicken coops would have to be in the backyard of single-family residences and contained within the owner’s property boundaries. The city could revoke a homeowner’s right to keep chickens if there were two confirmed property maintenance violations.

The Planning Commission raised concerns about chickens wandering off site onto neighbors’ properties; the upkeep of coops, including odors and disease; and possible neighbor-to-neighbor conflict and property maintenance issues.

The committee conducted a survey that found of the 163 responses, 74.2% were in favor of permitting chickens within the city.

“Just because it’s a movement and just because other cities have this, doesn’t mean we have to have it,” said resident Paula Cramer who spoke at previous council meeting in opposition to the proposal.

After the vote, Mayor Mark Messer said he thought “we have a good way forward and have a way to enforce. The committee did a good job.”

The city of Carlisle is also exploring a similar zoning change, however at its Oct. 25 meeting, that City Council voted to impose a moratorium on the proposal until January, according to Carlisle City Manager Julie Duffy.

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