Chickens Get Thumbs Up In Lookout Mountain, Ga.

Friday, February 9, 2018 - by Gail Perry

The Lookout Mountain, Ga., city council is unanimously in favor of allowing residents in the town to have chickens. At the February council meeting, Councilman Jim Sabourin, who was opposed to the proposition at the last meeting, said he has since, done research and changed his mind. It is already being done without a lot of people even being aware of it, he said. His approval would come with fairly restrictive conditions.

The proposal that he laid out would allow keeping chickens on a one year trial basis that would automatically sunset unless the council votes it back in. Subsequent votes would take place at one year intervals. Only chickens, no roosters or other fowl would be allowed. The practice would be prohibited in yards under one half acre, and six chickens would be the maximum number that could be kept on a lot that is one acre. Only property owners would be allowed to apply for a license to keep chickens and they must be current with all property taxes and sewer charges. There would be standards for chicken coops including not being visible from any street, and set back requirements would be 30 feet from any other building and 20 feet from any property line. The coops must be predator resistant. Chickens would have to be inside an enclosed area at all times and locked up at night. No slaughtering would be allowed. Raising chickens could not be a business. The councilman suggested limiting the number of permits for keeping chickens to around 15 and suggested having a community advisory board to educate those who apply. If we do this, he said, we must enforce the rules that will be established. One complaint, he said would receive a warning. “Two complaints and you’re out.”

“Ditto,” said Councilman Arch Willingham, but he suggested adding a $200 application and licensing fee. He said that he looked at this as a matter of property rights. “I don’t think it is a big deal, he said, I’m for it.”Councilperson Caroline Williams agreed and said she thinks the city should try it. “I’m in complete agreement with Jim, said Councilman Tony Towns. Council member Taylor Watson had two concerns, health of the community and the fact that a half acre reduced by the size of the house does not leave much room for chickens. And the fire and police department does not have the manpower to do the needed monitoring, so community involvement is needed, said Ms. Watson. Chairman of the Sewer Board Wes Hasden suggested adding an educational component to the ordinance that will regulate raising chickens.

There would be some half acre lots that would be unable to meet the other requirements, said Councilman Sabourin, and some people who currently have chickens may not meet the criteria either.

City Attorney Bill Pickering recommended that all requirements the council wants to include, be sent to the Planning Commission which would amend the zoning ordinance to allow chickens. That ordinance will then be returned to the council for a vote.

Because the town is now a “Bee City,” Fairyland Elementary School will participate by having an observation hive in the butterfly garden at the school, said Council member Williams. Jump rope for heart will take place next week. The school is updating technology with the purchase of 20 new 23 inch Chromebases to replace 15 year old Macs. Officials are now in discussion about what to do if the school exceeds the number of snow days. The time could be made up by adding days back or by adding extra hours per day. Another option is to cut short spring break.

The Garden Club of Lookout Mountain has given the city $4,000 to develop the new Joe Wilson Park at the intersection of Lula Lake Road and Red Riding Hood Trail. Community volunteer Jimmy Stewart has created a plan for the park that will be beautiful, said Ms. Watson and that will be on-going. She suggested that the Fairyland students could actively be involved by planting a bee garden in the park.

Mayor David Bennett has been meeting with the architects of the new Town Center. The drawings are a little behind schedule, he said, but are now expected to be completed in March, when he hopes to have a  meeting to unveil the plan to the public.

Wes Hasden, chairman of the sewer board told the council that 15 letters were sent to residents in January, who were 90 days delinquent on sewer bills. There has been no response from seven of those who received the notices. If arrangements are not made for those accounts by Feb. 19, Tennessee American Water will be sent to cut off water service, he said.

Two applications for privilege licenses were approved Thursday night. Michael Turner, who along with his wife has purchased Chanticleer Inn Bed and Breakfast, told the council that he comes to Lookout Mountain after running different hotels around the world. He said the previous owners of Chanticleer set the bar high, and that he hopes to do even better.

Amanda Lamb was approved for a license to do free lance graphic design from her home at 1306 Aladdin Road.

Town resident and volunteer Jimmy Campbell would like to dispel a rumor that is going around relating to the PUD ordinance currently under development. There is not a five story building planned for the Sims property, he said. The PUD ordinance, which would allow a higher density in certain parts of town, in its current form limits any building to a maximum height of 35 feet and has a restriction of eight units per acre. In its final form the number of units may be even lower, he said. The proposed ordinance will be discussed at the upcoming Planning Commission meeting on February 13 at 5 P.M. at City Hall. The public is welcome to attend. 

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