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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Council to mull chicken issue

Monday, July 7, 2014

Martinsville City Council is shaking a tail feather, so to speak, in considering a proposed ordinance that would allow homeowners to keep chickens.

The ordinance will be considered when the council meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the municipal building on West Church Street uptown.

According to City Attorney Eric Monday, city officials believe the extensive rules would deter anyone from keeping chickens who is not serious about it.

Those who want to keep chickens could do so only in backyards and would have to meet requirements for, among other things, keeping pens clean, storing chicken feed and disposing of messes, the ordinance shows.

Also, they would have to pay $200 for a special use permit, which both the Martinsville Planning Commission and city council would consider after holding public hearings. The permitting process would give the city an opportunity to assess applicants’ abilities to abide by the requirements, Monday said.

More than 120 people signed a petition, recently presented to the council, requesting that chickens be allowed in the city. Ordinances currently forbid residents from having live chickens.

The idea is that chickens lay eggs that households keeping them would eat.

The council asked the planning commission to consider the issue first. The commission voted 5-1 last week to send the proposed rules to the council.

Voicing concerns over chickens being allowed in the city, the commission did not endorse the ordinance. Rather, by sending it on to the council, it basically asserted that if the council feels the need to permit chickens, the proposed rules would be helpful in keeping the animals from causing problems.

If it does not put up a squawk, the council likely will solicit public comments during its July 22 meeting before considering the ordinance for adoption on first reading, according to Monday.

Other items on the council’s agenda for Tuesday include:

• Holding a public hearing on a request to convey portions of a city-owned parking lot on Fayette Street uptown to the Integrative Centers for Science and Medicine, which is establishing a medical school in a former supermarket building on the adjacent property.

• Hearing an update on the West Piedmont Business Development Center, a small business incubator uptown. The Martinsville-Henry County Chamber of Commerce recently was given control of the incubator’s daily operations.

• Considering adoption on first reading of updated water and sewer terms and conditions. (See related story.)

• Considering adoption on first reading of proposed amendments to the city’s noise ordinance.

• Considering adoption on final reading of an ordinance concerning an electronic summons system court assessment.

• Considering routine-type budget amendments, and

• Hearing business from the floor.

At 7 p.m., the council will meet in closed session to consider a personnel matter.


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