More people in Red Bank will be able to have backyard chickens after the commissioners passed an ordinance reducing the lot size requirement. Until two years ago, the minimum lot size was two acres to keep farm animals, which included chickens. Two years ago that was reduced to one half acre for chickens. Around 50 percent of homes in the city met this minimum lot size.
On Tuesday night, because a lot of requests had come from homeowners with less than a half-acre of property, the lot size requirement was dropped altogether and was replaced with the condition that a chicken coop must have a 10-foot setback from the main structure on the lot. This will allow up to 70 percent, or around 2,000 homes in the city, to qualify. Chickens will be required to be kept in the coop at all times.
Annual permits must be obtained from the city and an inspection will be done each year when the permit is renewed. The ordinance also specifies how chicken waste must be disposed of and there is language that says the CDC has some health concerns with keeping chickens.
Commissioner Pete Phillips, who has raised chickens in the past, listed concerns he has including how the ordinance will be enforced and how fines will be collected for non-compliance. He said the application cost needs to cover the cost of the inspections, and who does a neighbor with complaints go to? He said that he believes keeping chickens is romanticized and that people getting a permit need to be more educated about it. “I’m not against chickens but am against my neighbors having chickens. I want to make my dissent clear,” he said.
Commissioner Jamie Fairbanks Harvey said she is still seeking input from citizens and had been studying the issue. The people she has heard from, she said, are concerned that chickens will attract predators.
Vice Mayor Stefanie Dalton said that people in Red Bank are already keeping chickens illegally, and without obtaining a permit. This amendment to the existing ordinance just sets parameters and, since more houses qualify, more of those can now pay the city for a permit, she said. There have been few major problems so far with residents keeping chickens and there was not a big influx of people applying for a permit two years ago, so a large number of applications is not anticipated now, she stated. But she said it is not set in stone and that the commission can amend an ordinance at any time.
The vote was three in favor of the amendments to the chicken ordinance and two opposed, with Commissioner Phillips and Fairbanks Harvey voting against. The amended law will be in effect if it passes on the second reading at the next commission meeting on Feb. 21.
In regular city business, the commission passed a resolution that will allow agreements with certain organizations, public entities and non-profit organizations to use the Joe Glasscock Community Center at no cost. Another vote authorized spending $14,274 to purchase and install missing guardrails at two locations along Ashland Terrace.
Updates of the status for several infrastructure projects were given to the commissioners. TDOT projects that are in varying stages include signalization improvements at major intersections for traffic control and pedestrian crossings. This is now under construction and due to be completed June 2023. Resurfacing Dayton Boulevard from Browntown Road to Gadd Road is in the design review phase. The replacement of Lullwater Bridge, a one-lane bridge with two lanes, is in the review phase. ADA upgrades for sidewalk ramps, crosswalks and traffic signals along Dayton Boulevard from Signal Mountain Boulevard to Newberry Street are also in the TDOT design review phase. TDOT anticipates completing a community mobility study in July 2023 to assess transportation deficiencies and find solutions.
WWTA began a $7.2 million contract to make improvements to the sanitary sewer system in areas of Red Bank that are under a state moratorium. When the work has been completed some capacity is expected to be added to Red Bank’s sewer system, thereby ending the building moratorium so the city can grow.
City Manager Martin Granum announced that the Red Bank city hall will be closed February 20 due to the observance of Presidents Day.