LOUISVILLE, Colo. -
The City Council isn't ready to consider allowing backyard chickens, but it's moving forward with a less controversial request to allow bee keeping.
Chicken proponents flocked to Tuesday's Louisville City Council meeting to talk up the benefits of raising chickens, saying it's part of an overall desire for more sustainable living. Chickens provide a ready supply of high-quality eggs, eat table scraps and produce waste that makes good compost, they said.
"It's time that we connect more with where food comes from," said Louisville resident Janna Butler. "It brings us back to a place where we need to be as a planet."
Though no opponents spoke Tuesday, council members said most of the community comments they've been hearing are anti-chicken.
"People are telling me they don't want chickens next door to them," said Councilman Hank Dalton.
Opponents cite noise, stink and the possibility that chickens will attract more predators to neighborhoods.
"We need to talk more about it," said Mayor Chuck Sisk. "Let's find ways to better educate our citizens and dispel some of the concerns."
A growing number of communities statewide and nationally have passed laws allowing chickens to roost in neighborhoods.
Neighboring Superior recently OK'd up to six of the birds per house, while Boulder already allows small flocks. Longmont also issued 50 residential chicken permits this year as part of a trial program.
Councilman Bob Muckle said, if the matter does move forward, he likes Longmont's example of issuing only a limited number of permits. But first, he wants to see general community support.
"It's got to be something the community widely embraces," he said.
Councilwoman Sheri Marsella said her concerns include increasing the workload for code enforcement officers and the potential for neighbor conflicts.
"I'm very concerned about pitting neighbor against neighbor," she said.
Backyard chicken supporters said they plan to set up a table at the weekly Downtown Louisville Street Faire to provide education.
The council did agree Tuesday to ask the Planning Commission to consider a request from a Louisville couple to legalize backyard bee hives, noting they haven't heard much opposition to the idea.
Joseph Alper and Michele Pelanne said they've seen the effects of Boulder County's diminishing bee population on their large vegetable garden and want to try bee keeping.
"Last year, I lost a lot of crops because I didn't have honeybees in my yard," Pelanne said.