The public responded to the question of chickens.
Yes, there are residents in Abilene that are elated about having laying hens in town.
Yes, there are residents in Abilene that are strongly opposed to chickens in the city limits.
Those sentiments mirrored the Abilene City Commission at its regular virtual Monday meeting.
Mayor Chris Ostermann and Commissioner Dee Marshall who both voted down allowing chickens in Abilene last October, were still adamantly against the proposal. The majority of Abilene residents don’t want chickens, they believe.
Commissioner Trevor Witt who sponsored the ordinance and Brandon Rein were all in favor. They think the community wants hens.
Commissioner Tim Shafer, who voted against chickens last year, changed his vote.
On a 3-2 vote, the city commission approved allowing up to six laying hens at a residence, more if the acreage is there to support it, at Monday’s meeting.
City Attorney Aaron Martin said roosters will not be allowed.
“I grew up in a community that allowed chickens. I know firsthand the problems with chickens,” Marshall said. “They are barnyard animals.”
Ostermann said the city has more issues to deal with.
“We are in a crisis mode and we are talking about chickens,” she said. “I had a comment from someone that said, why in the world are you talking and continuing to talk about this? This should be the least of our worries.”
Ostermann proposed tabling the issue.
“So it can be in a setting where we can actually have people come up and comment,” she said. “I think that is the only reasonable thing to do. We are just continuing the ‘he said, she said.’ That is not a way to continue the process.”
“It obviously needs to be studied some more,” Marshall said. “If commissioners Witt and Rein don’t feel the (numbers) are fair, let’s do them all over again.”
The commission received about 32 comments by email and by phone calls by noon on Monday. A little over 50 percent were against chickens and under 50 percent were in favor.
Rein referred back to the Abilene Round Table online discussion which showed 57.3 percent were interested in allowing chickens.
“All the comments against were based on emotion,” Rein said.
“I’m curious. What extra information do you think we would receive by having this tabled?” Witt asked.
“Now we are saying we shouldn’t take the votes that are now current but take it from what it was previously. I don’t think that is fair to the community to take old information,” Ostermann said.
“I don’t see any reason to table this,” Witt said.
Witt pointed to the city of Wamego that has allowed chicken since 2015.
“They said they have never received a complaint,” he said.
The vote to table the ordinance failed on the same 2-3 vote.
Some of the comments included:
“I’m Sam Kleinbeck. I live at 103 Xavier Drive in Abilene. When I heard the possibility of laying hens within the city of Abilene, I was ecstatic.
“During this time of uncertainty it is refreshing to see the city of Abilene is attempting to take care of its citizens. This will help with so many issues. First and foremost this gives a good source of protein for young children whom families are not within the financial means to help feed their children. Second, it is a way to help children learn about caring for and raising their own food source and especially chicken fertilizer is great for home gardens.
“This is also a great plan to help people stay at home during these times where we need to social distance. I have read the draft for the chickens and would suggest we write in they cannot use the eggs and chickens for financial means and only for personal use. I believe this would help stop the people from trying to overcrowd their stock. Good job, Abilene. Proud of you.”
Samuel Kleinbeck, CW5 (retired) U.S. Army Professor, Kansas State University Polytechnic
“I would like to express my great excitement that Abilene is considering allowing residents to have chickens. I gave my chickens away when we moved to town in December and have really missed having them. I would love the opportunity to have some again. I hope the new law is passed.
“Please allow chickens (hens) in the city limits. What an awesome opportunity for families to have this experience. We are a rural town and this is an awesome idea. Our children would love this. We have seven children. There are not very many things in this town to do. This would be an awesome way for kids to experience some animals and get eggs. This would not be bad for this town. We are behind the times on this. Many towns allow chickens.”
James and Roberta Robertson
“I grew up on a farm with chickens and I moved to the city because I don’t want chickens in my backyard or my neighbors’ backyard. Covid-19 is just an excuse to allow it in. We have local grocery stores that need our support. Unless you bring in other farm animals like cows, pigs, etc., this isn’t going to keep you from going to the store for milk and other necessities. Besides that, they do smell bad, especially downwind. If you want a project for kids, join 4-H. There’s endless possibilities, but don’t bring farm animals into town.”
“I would totally be against having chickens within the city limits. Would not want them next to our home. Resale? Property Value? Nuisance? What is next? Horses, Cows? Pigs? Once you start, where do you stop? If they want animals, they need to live in the country.”
Contact Tim Horan at editor @abilene-rc.com.