The Statham City Council will discuss at its Thursday, April 8 work session whether to amend a city ordinance to permit livestock and the sale of animal products from the livestock in residential zoning districts.
The proposed amendment, which would get a final council vote April 20 if it advances to the voting session agenda, would permit the raising and sale of livestock in the SR-1, SR-2 and UR zones, where such activities are not currently allowed. Livestock is defined in the current ordinance as “cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, llamas, emus, ostriches, donkeys and mules, goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese and other fowl, rabbits, minks, foxes and other fur or hide-bearing animals customarily bred or raised in captivity, whether owned or kept for pleasure, utility or sale.”
The agenda for the meeting lists councilwoman Tammy Crawley as the sponsor of the amendment, though Crawley said she asked two citizens who approached her with concerns to address the council themselves. The matter stems primarily from two recent situations where residents were notified of ordinance violations by the city’s code enforcement contractor — one where a resident was raising bunnies (and has been doing so for years, according to Crawley) and the other where a resident had four roosters on a half-acre of property and was selling chicken eggs. Roosters are not currently permitted and presented a violation of the city’s nuisance ordinance, Mayor Joe Piper said, adding that the minimum lot size for backyard chickens is one acre, not including a house, and no more than 12 are allowed.
After a citizen complaint on the chickens, the property owner was notified of the violation, Piper said. He said he believes the roosters were removed but the other chickens remain on the property, and the resident approached Crawley about possible amendments.
Piper said he has concerns about the proposed amendment posing potential health issues in the future.
“If we just opened it up to everyone and their brother, we’d be opening up the floodgates to where someone isn’t following the sanitation guidelines,” Piper said, adding that could also present economic issues with the chicken industry in the area in the event of a bird flu outbreak. “I think it is a bit of a political football, and I definitely don’t want to be on the fumbling end of it. I’m trying to do my due diligence to figure out how to get the best handle on it. “We have the ordinance in place, and it’s that way for a reason. Changing it to jeopardize more for the sake of a couple people really isn’t a smart thing to do. We may be benefiting the few at the expense of the many.”
Crawley said she shares the mayor’s concerns that health and sanitation protections should be put in place, but that the ordinance should be reworded to allow for responsible owners to have animals.
“As long as it’s not a nuisance,” Crawley said. “Most, if not all of us, on the council agree that this ordinance needs tweaking because so many people do have chickens and other animals. I question why it’s an issue now. It’s not my goal whatsoever to entirely redo the ordinance.
“It’s something I would truly like the council to work with the mayor and the (city) attorney on addressing.”
The council’s work session will be held at 6:30 p.m. at city hall, 327 Jefferson St.
Other items the council is scheduled to discuss at its work session include:
•the installation of laser speed detection devices in school zones in the city. The LIDAR system uses laser technology to pinpoint a vehicle’s speed and is aimed at deterring speeding in the school zones. The company would install and maintain the devices, which would come at no cost to the city, and the city would share a portion of the revenues with Barrow County, Piper said. A 30-day warning period would be issued to the public upon implementation, and after that citations would be issued automatically to a vehicle owner’s address, Piper said.
•a resolution to request the Georgia Department of Transportation to conduct a traffic investigation/study and approve the reduction of the speed limit on Broad Street from 35 to 25 miles per hour between Dooley Town Road and Eighth Street.
•a discussion of the future of the public works building at 330 Jefferson St.
•a discussion of four-wheelers on public streets.
•approval of the city’s fiscal year 2018 final audit. The city has been working on getting caught up on its previous fiscal year audits, which would allow the city to resume applying for various state grants.
•a proposed unified development code amendment that would require a major subdivision (more than five lots) to have a preliminary plat that would require council review and approval.
•a discussion of cleaning up alleyways in the city and deeding certain alleys to property owners whose properties border those alleys.
•the production of “welcome packets” for new city residents.
•a potential citywide clean-up day, modeled after the upcoming Barrow County Great American Clean Up event, scheduled for May 22 in Winder.