GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - City Council formally approved an ordinance Thursday that will allow residents in some parts of Glenwood Springs to keep backyard chickens.
"I do have to say that I have warmed up to this idea," Councilman Leo McKinney, an early skeptic of the proposal, said before voting in favor of the ordinance.
The ordinance passed on a 5-0 vote but is subject to a second reading at the July 19 council meeting before the new rules allowing chickens take effect.
The ordinance allows in-city residents to obtain a permit to keep as many as six backyard hens for the purpose of providing fresh eggs and poultry. No roosters are allowed under the ordinance.
Chickens would only be allowed at single-family residences in the older parts of town on lots of no less than 5,000 square feet. Newer subdivisions typically have their own rules prohibiting the keeping of livestock.
Chicken coops also must be constructed to certain standards. And, at the urging of wildlife officials, they are to be equipped with electric fencing as a deterrent to bears, foxes and other predators.
Although supportive of the ordinance, McKinney said that he'd like to see the question go to a citywide election.
"These kinds of things are better left to the community to decide," he said. "For some people, they don't move into town to live next to farm animals. I do think it's something we should vote on as a community."
But McKinney said the one argument that resonated with him is that dogs can be just as disruptive in residential neighborhoods, if not more so.
"Chickens probably don't match up to that impact," he said.
Mayor Matt Steckler said the issue has been open for discussion for more than a year now and the ordinance has been fully vetted.
"We are doing our duty as representatives of the city to make the decision on this," he said of the notion that it should go to an election.
City planners will come up with a fee structure for the permits. Any city residents who already have chicken coops will be required to obtain a permit, Glenwood Springs Community Development Director Andrew McGregor said.
"The cost of the permit will be based on an accounting of staff time involved," he said.
Councilman Stephen Bershenyi suggested a provision that would allow for a warning to be issued in the event of any violations before a permit would be revoked.
"That just seems prudent to me," he said.
By approving the ordinance, Glenwood Springs joins other local communities, including Basalt, Carbondale and Rifle, in allowing people to keep backyard chickens.