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Kenai planning and zoning plucks apart chicken ordinance

Posted: January 24, 2013 - 9:46pm  |  Updated: January 24, 2013 - 10:22pm

The Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously voted down an ordinance that seeks to allow Kenai residents to raise chickens within city limits at a Wednesday work session.

“We’ve had testimony from (the Alaska Department of) Fish and Game and from other neighbors that have said this is going to bring in bears,” said Commissioner Clifford Smith, who proposed the motion to vote down the ordinance.

Smith said also that the city already has a conditional use permitting process for those wishing to own chickens to apply through. He said that process should be used for residents to obtain chickens.

“If it’s not broken, why fix it?” he said.

The commission’s decision will go to the Kenai City Council as a recommendation for final action. In a Nov. 21 council meeting, council members agreed the ordinance, as was proposed, needed refining. The council will review the commission’s recommendations at a March 6 meeting.

The chicken ordinance — Ordinance 2656-2012 — would allow those living within Kenai city limits to raise no more than 12 chickens on their properties for non-commercial uses.

In the Nov. 21 council meeting, some residents said they did not want the ordinance to pass. Many said the chickens would attract bears, and others said coops would pop up in yards without the neighbors being dutifully warned.

Jeff Selinger, a Soldotna-based Fish and Game wildlife biologist, said chickens were the number one cause for defense of life and property brown bear killings on the Peninsula in 2012. And since Anchorage instituted laws allowing chicken ownership in city limits, there has been a rise in bear activity, said David Battle, Anchorage-based assistant area biologist.

“Chickens are definitely a bear attractant,” he said.

Battle said the bears first smell the feed scattered about the coops. Then they investigate and discover the chickens.

While electric fences are effective in keeping the bears from the chickens, the coop still brings bears to the neighborhood, Battle said.

Other residents, however, see the chickens as an asset, not a danger.

While no residents came to the Wednesday commission work session to defend the ordinance, Hedi Chay, district manager for the Kenai Soil & Water Conservation District, said in the November council meeting that chickens have many benefits. They produce fertilizer for gardens, eat garden pests, eat food waste and provide food locally, she said.

Kenai resident Nancy Schrag said at the November meeting that having a local food source is important.

“Having resources at hand is important, and food is a resource,” she said.

Dan Schwartz can be reached at

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BigRedDog 01/25/13 - 06:16 am
what about existing cluches

What about the new 8x10 $1200 insulated floor, walls, and ceiling chicken hutch, just built by my freind since you passed or okayed the orinance? Sounds like somebody thinks we will be able to cohabitate with the local brown fauna that bites. Allowing brown bear to mix with people is setting us locals up for a major awakening. Those old timers were right keeping the bear shot out of town. It's just a matter of time before that young father that took the walk and ran into a 9 1/2' bear attacking from point blank like 2 years ago,happens again. Only the next stroller may not be armed with a 454 cassul and get that lucky shot off. guess it will take a few more maulings or maybe a death before local authorities realize it may be the wrong path with our expanding population.
For 1/2 acre or bigger lots it should be a no brainer, heck we can use them as bait stations for in town bowhunters. Don't sat you will when you won't oh oh.

bigbadbob 01/25/13 - 04:58 pm
Looks like Granny and the

Looks like Granny and the MAPS folk need to organize another referendum. Dog gone city wont listen to them again...they should be able to have whatever they want(or dont)in their back yard. right?

shadowmt 01/26/13 - 11:52 am

I agree that if you live right in town that you should not have chickens. But when you live 8 miles from the middle of town on 10 acres but still in the city limits you should be able to own farm animals. Big Brother is watching a little too close.

KMarx 01/26/13 - 12:41 pm
Know the facts

shadowmt, if you live on over a 40,000sf lot (just under one acre) or larger, the Kenai Municipal code allows you to have chickens already. The Planning & Zoning Commission is saying if you live on a small lot then there is a process you need to follow that provides notice to your neighbors, when considering whether you can have chickens.This isn't about the overreach of government, it's about a city council member trying to make new legislation without understanding what's alrady in place.

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