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Council stews over chicken issue

The City Council postponed voting for two weeks on an ordinance that would allow single-family residences to have chickens in their backyards.

Council members Cam Walker and Peggy Leavitt hoped to iron out more details before casting a vote so they don’t ruffle the feathers of residents.

“If you had to pick up chickens, where would you put the chickens?” Leavitt asked Community Development Director Brok Armantrout. “Are we prepared for that?”

The city allows chickens in lots of at least 20,000 square feet. The new ordinance would allow no more than 10 chickens at single-family residences only. Chicken coops would have to be kept 5 feet from the property limits, and roosters would not be permitted.

Armantrout said he had spoken with other cities about their regulations on chickens. He said Henderson only receives one or two complaints a year and it allows chickens in all residential zones.

“We were surprised to find that they had no limit on how many (chickens) people could have,” he said.

Under the new ordinance, no permit would be required, and inspections would be enforced on a complaint basis, Armantrout said. Of the cities he studied, Kingman, Ariz., was the only one to require a permit.

Walker asked about the number of complaints Boulder City’s Animal Control receives under the current ordinance, to which Police Chief Bill Conger said “about four to six” a year.

A majority of those who spoke during the public comment period were in favor of the new ordinance, citing the freshness of eggs and helping to keep the city “clean and green.”

“Backyard chickens are charming, and provide homeowners with a safe, self-sustaining, green way of life,” resident Cynthia Olsen said. “I want my kids to know where their food comes from, and learn the responsibility of caring for such animals.”

The city had received numerous emails against the new ordinance, citing noise, the possibility of attracting more coyotes, and the smell of chicken waste among others.

“Chicken poop does stink, but it can be cleaned like any other pet waste,” Olsen said. “A chicken makes, at the loudest, 65 decibels, which is (the sound) of an adult conversation. A barking dog is 90 decibels.”

Councilman Duncan McCoy said, “I don’t have any issues with people keeping chickens. We’re talking about pets, and we’re talking about a hobby activity. I would just assume we would go ahead and give it a shot and see what happens.”

But Walker was not comfortable with the new ordinance. Both he and Leavitt said they needed more information.

“We have to think about the policing aspect of it,” Walker said. “Maybe there’s a way (residents) get a license to have it. And like a dog license it’s a nominal fee, but at least our Animal Control people know they’re there.”

Talks were tabled until the council’s next meeting Nov. 12.

In other council news, the formal addition of the name “Boulder City Parkway” to U.S. Highway 93 was passed as the city’s name will be more prominently displayed for drivers coming into town.

Boulder City Parkway would begin at Railroad Pass and run through Hemenway Valley after turning left on Buchanan Boulevard.

The addition of the name is in the hopes of drawing more people to Boulder City, especially after construction of the bypass is completed, city officials said. The name change would take about a year to complete. Currently, the stretch is commonly referred to as Nevada Highway.

The city discussed the revenue it gained from solar projects. It has eight agreements with solar companies, but three are nonoperational.

The general fund receives 80 percent of the solar revenue, which is used for basic costs such as police, fire and public works. The solar revenue comprises 21 to 25 percent of the general fund, Finance Director Shirley Hughes said.

The capital improvement fund receives the other 20 percent and uses it to make accelerated payments to cover its portion of the third intake pipe at Lake Mead.

“For 2015, in the General Fund, the total solar revenue we’ll receive is just over $7.3 million,” Hughes said.

But the city is still deferring close to $1.3 million from the Techren Solar lease, leaving the total just shy of $6 million.

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at sslivka@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow @StevenSlivka on Twitter.

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