Nicholasville resident Cathy Sparks asked the city commission Monday to revisit its animal ordinance after one of her neighbors brought chickens into the neighborhood on Stephens Drive.
“The man who lives there, in October of last year, he brought in some chickens — four hens and two roosters,” Sparks said. “We hear them and smell them on a daily basis.”
It’s not so much the sounds and smells Sparks is concerned with, but rather the health hazard she says they pose to her granddaughter, who suffers from pica, an eating disorder typically defined as the persistent ingestion of nonnutritive substances.
“She has multiple disabilities and she is mobile,” Sparks said. “That’s my biggest concern because chickens can carry diseases.”
Sparks said multiple times since October 2011 she has discovered chicken feathers in her yard but picked them up before her granddaughter could ingest them.
“The health concern is a big deal,” she said. “I would like to have these chickens moved to another property; the man can keep them as long as they’re not around us.”
Sparks has taken her concern to the city’s code-enforcement department and twice has went to court over the issue, and the case was dismissed both times.
“I’ve been told as it stands, (the ordinance) needs to be rewritten, and that’s why I’m here,” she said.
City attorney Bill Arvin said he has had conversations with Sparks and acknowledged that the current ordinance is lacking.
“We have an ordinance that is somewhat archaic and was a little bit broad and vague as to the enforceability,” Arvin said. “I've met with the county attorney about this, and he felt the same as I do. So the case was dismissed without prejudice.”
The main problem with the current animal ordinance is it contridicts itself. In one section, it says chickens are not allowed, but in another section, it says they are allowed under certain conditions.
Arvin said he is looking at ways to iron out the ordinance and will bring it back to the commission for its consideration in the near future.
“I’m going to take a look and call some other cities and see how they’re handling their chicken problem,” Arvin said. “Of course, it’s a nuisance, and there’s a common-law nuisance without an ordinance that could be pursued, but I told Cathy that I’d be looking into it to see what we could do. It will be back into your all’s hands to consider, hopefully by the next meeting.”