Kenai City Council to debate livestock ordinance

Posted: Thursday, June 15, 2000

Residents of certain subdivisions within the city limits of Kenai will be protected from having chickens, goats or emus moving in next door, if a new livestock ordinance is passed by the city council on Wednesday.

The ordinance prohibits livestock completely from four zones in the city: urban residential, suburban residential 1 and 2, and the Townsite Historic District.

There are a few small subdivisions scattered throughout Kenai that qualify as urban residential, based on their population density and use. There is only one suburban residential 1 subdivision in the city -- off Lawton Drive -- and no suburban residential 2 subdivisions exist. Suburban residential zoning provides for lower density than urban residential.

The Townsite Historic District is in Old Town Kenai.

The proposed ordinance also bars livestock from lots outside areas that are smaller than 20,000 square feet, or roughly a half an acre. The ordinance allows livestock on lots larger than that with certain safety and health requirements.

"This ordinance won't affect anybody I've identified because everyone who has livestock lives on lots over 20,000 feet," said Bill Godek, Kenai's animal control officer. "This is really an ordinance for the future."

Animals already on a lot where they would otherwise be prohibited when the ordinance goes into effect will be grandfathered in and allowed to stay. However, no new animals may be introduced. That brings up the question of breeding stock and their potential offspring.

City Attorney Cary Graves said offspring would be considered as replacement livestock, which is barred under the ordinance.

"It raises an interesting issue about how long they can keep (offspring)," he said. "I don't think anyone has thought about that."

Godek said he's only identified one landowner with livestock in a nonconforming subdivision that may be grandfathered in, but he's not even sure if she has geese any more.

"The animals I've already identified in the city are not in areas subject to the ordinance," he said.

Godek said any offspring would be allowed to stay with its parents until a veterinarian deemed it would be safe to separate them, at which time they must be removed to a qualifying lot or outside city limits.

Specifically, the ordinance defines livestock as cows, horses, American bison, llamas, alpacas, sheep, swine, goats, mules, donkeys, ratites (ostriches, emus and cassowaries), ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys. Rabbits are not on the list. No animals raised specifically for their fur may be kept anywhere in the city.

"I don't want people not to have fun with livestock," Godek said. "We just felt people should be protected in certain subdivisions. That's why they move there; they're not farmers."

Except for the urban residential zoning areas, there are exemptions for keeping livestock on otherwise restricted lots for educational purposes or youth activities such as 4-H Club, Future Farmers of America and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. The exemption can be granted by Godek after allowing adjoining property owners to comment. A permit allowing an exemption may be granted for up to two years and may be renewed. A two-week permit for livestock used in public exhibitions or entertainment events also could be granted.

The council will take up the issue at its regular scheduled meeting on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at city hall.

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