About two years after the issue was shouted down by some residents, the Carthage City Council will revisit allowing residents to keep chickens in the city limits.

About two years after the issue was shouted down by some residents, the Carthage City Council will revisit allowing residents to keep chickens in the city limits.
The Carthage City Council's Public Safety Committee sent to the full council a proposed ordinance, prepared by Ward 3 Council Member Brady Beckham and the city staff, setting the conditions and regulations for raising up to five chickens at one time at homes in the city.
It's an issue that the council considered in 2012 before making minor changes to the animal code that did not explicitly prohibit raising chickens but made it nearly impossible to do so legally by requiring chicken pens or coops be kept at least 250 feet from any residence, business, church or school.
"One side did very well in that last discussion and there were very few concessions," Beckham said. "One side walked away with everything and the other side got nothing."

Residents' request
Beckham said Carthage residents approached him several months ago about revisiting the ordinance, and he spent the last month working with City Administrator Tom Short, City Attorney Nate Dally and others on the city staff to draft the ordinance approved by the committee.
"Two years ago, the ordinance on the books was complaint driven," Beckham said. "This revisitation of that issue is, again, complaint driven because people have approached me personally and other council members saying, hey, lets take a look at this."
Beckham's proposed ordinance, which will be considered at first reading at the council meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 26 at Carthage City Hall, includes 19 requirements for how chickens can be kept in the city, including a limit of five chickens at any one household and requiring they all be female; regulations on the chicken pens or chicken "tractors" or pens that can be moved around; requiring that the pens or tractors be kept at the rear of the home or residence and at least 25 feet from any home, business, school or church; limits on how much manure could be stored at a residence and how feed will be stored; and fines for violations and requirements that people wanting to keep chickens register them with the city and pay a $5 permit fee.

National trend
Beckham said he didn't realize that keeping chickens for their eggs was a national trend until residents approached him and asked him to consider changing the ordinances.
"This is not a project that I'm starting for my own benefit, but it was brought to my attention that we should take another look at this," he said. "In researching this I'm finding out there's already academic literature about the movement about how city ordinances are changing. There's also evidence of the momentum this has, evidence of this movement is seen in the size of the industry revolving around chicken tractors and hen houses. Do a google search and see all the images that come up, there are a lot of people doing this that weren't doing this five years ago."
Beckham and Short answered questions from the four members of the public safety committee before that committee unanimously sent the ordinance to the full council.

A big change
Beckham said the 25-foot requirement is a big change, but it is consistent with the ordinances in other cities, such as Rogers, Ark., Baltimore and others have.
"We're trying to take into consideration the neighbors," Short said. "Because the neighbors are the ones who will have to be dealing with it and that's where the complaints are going to come from, are the neighbors who are having problems with the next door people and unruly chickens."
Another committee member asked about dogs or cats who might get excited or kill a chicken.
Beckham said the ordinance specifically says no dog or cat that kills a chicken shall for that reason alone be considered a vicious animal to be put to sleep or banned from the city.
He said all other ordinances dealing with dogs running at large will also apply to chickens.
Officials and committee members acknowledged there could be problems with enforcing the new regulations and there would likely be more calls for service to the city's one animal control officer.