Contemplating a community farm
New Cheney codes could allow some farm animals and beekeeping within the city limits
A proposed addition to Cheney’s zoning codes might make it easier for individuals to keep and raise farm animals and bees within city limits.
Cheney’s Planning Commission got a preliminary look at a new chapter, 28.820 – Animal Keeping, in the city code during a workshop at the commission’s April 8 meeting. The chapter sets up regulations regarding the keeping of large or small domestic animals, household pets and beekeeping.
Under the proposal large animals, livestock, would be those weighing more than 500 pounds at maturity – cows, horses, etc. – and would be allowed on minimum lot sizes of an acre per one animal. Additional animals would be allowed per 10,000 square feet of contiguous space, with normally permitted residence footage allowed as long as at least one-half acre is for livestock use.
Small or miniature domestic animals are those weighting 50-200 pounds at maturity – excluding swine – and require a minimum lot size of one-half acre for the first animal, 7,500 square feet per each additional. The residence regulation is the same as for large animals.
Poultry and rabbits would be permitted at one animal per 2,500 square feet of property, up to a maximum of four animals, in residence zones R-4, R-6 and R-9 – the new designations for SR-2 semi-rural residential, R-1 single-family residential and R-2 single-family/duplex residential. These animals would not be allowed in high-density zones, and the proposed code excludes guinea fowl, geese, peacocks and roosters.
The code prohibits the raising and keeping of domestic animals for commercial purposes and requires areas be kept clean and “relatively free of odor.”
Commissioner Mike Rossey questioned the number of poultry and rabbits allowed, noting they can produce large numbers of offspring at one time.
“A clutch of chicks, you’re already over the limit,” he said.
City Administrator Arlene Fisher explained the new chapter was not directed at individuals practicing proper animal husbandry, but rather meant to address those not following these methods and engaged in proper sanitation.
“We’ve got some really unsightly issues right now,” she said.
Community Development Director Brian Jennings added that language regarding square foot requirements could be removed in favor of terms specifying the number of animals allowed.
The new chapter also allows beekeeping in the R-4, R-6 and R-9 zones and through a conditional use permit in all zones by institutions engaged in education or research. One colony per 4,500 square feet is allowed, maximum of eight colonies, with a 25-foot setback from the property line required.
The exception to the 25-foot requirement are colonies 10 feet from a side or rear lot line meeting provisions of being isolated from public access by a security fence, and maintaining a flyway barrier so bees escaping are forced to do so at least six feet above the ground.
Planning Commission chair Vince Barthels said his son is allergic to bees, and noted there are likely others in the community as well.
“Before we go too deep into this ordinance I’d like to do some more research into this,” he said.
Audience member George Derek Policani asked if it might be possible for the city to identify land near city limits that beekeepers might be able to use for colonies, keeping them out of the more densely populated areas of the city while allowing the practice to thrive.
“It’s healthy for the environment, and it would put a smile on everybody’s face,” he said.
Barthels said he can see this point, but would like more work done to address issues with colonies in any residential zones.
“I understand community health,” he said. “I think we have to evaluate human health too.”
Jennings said they would take a look at the issues raised in the discussion, revamp the chapter and bring it back before the commission. More information regarding Cheney’s code updates can be viewed online at http://www.cityofcheney.org/codeupdate.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.