Crestwood OKs keeping nine chickens


Catherine Biermann, pictured above, smiles while holding her chicken, Jane. Jane is one of five chickens that Biermann keeps on her property in Crestwood. Photo by Jessica Belle Kramer.

Emily Klein
Staff Reporter

Crestwood residents have been able to keep chickens on their property since 2015, and now they can keep more.

The Crestwood Board of Aldermen accepted an increase last month in the number of chickens that can be owned by a resident, along with guidelines that require the chickens to be properly cared for.

Aldermen unanimously approved increasing the limit of hens that could be kept on a property at the June 12 meeting. Chicken owners said that the city’s previous limit of five hens is not enough to provide eggs for some families. About 30 residents currently own chickens, and in order to have chickens on residential property, owners must apply for a permit.

The board received a recommendation from the Public Works Board to increase the limit of chickens from five to nine as well as rewrite the ordinance to include guidelines on pen size, neighbor approval, care and maintenance. A couple of aldermen had concerns about the appearance of the coops, as well as the sound and smell of the chickens.

Ward 1 Alderman Mimi Duncan said that her neighbors have chickens, and before the city issued a notice of violations, the coop was dirty and smelled. Duncan said that she had to put up a screen in her backyard to block the view.

“When you sign as a neighbor to approve your neighbors to have chickens, you don’t have any experience with how they will handle it and once you know you might not sign it,” said Duncan. “Perhaps my experience is just bad chicken ownership with my neighbor, but it has not been good.”

Duncan said she hopes the new ordinance will be more comprehensive so that owners will give good care to the chickens and their habitat. The new ordinance covers requirements such as the sanitation of the coop, the disposal of chicken refuse, and the size requirements for the coop and pen.

The main goal for these requirements is to provide a healthy, safe and sanitary place for the hens to live. The requirements also make sure the neighbors aren’t bothered by the sight of the chickens and that no noxious smells come from the coop. The city doesn’t allow residents to keep roosters.

At the Public Works Board meeting, a resident submitted an email expressing the love she has for her neighbor’s chickens. Emily Revelle said that her “chicken neighbors” Dot, Rhonda and Jane are a pleasant addition to the neighborhood.

“When the girls moved in a few years ago, I admit I didn’t know about them and was curious on how it would go,” Revelle said. “Not only has it been so interesting to watch them grow, I can tell you with full confidence it doesn’t affect our neighborhood at all. The girls are quiet in their coop and they have no smell at all — in fact, my dogs don’t even notice them.”

Ward 3 Alderman Jerry Miguel noted in the Public Works Board meeting that another alderman lives next to chickens and that their cackling is loud and makes it distracting to work from home. The Public Works Board said that there’s usually not opposition for neighbors to own chickens, but they just want to make sure the chickens are taken care of and the coops are cleaned frequently. Residents wanting to get a chicken permit are required to get written consent from their adjacent neighbors. If any neighbors say that they don’t approve, the permit is denied.

Heather Stiles, another resident, spoke at the Public Works Board and said that five chickens don’t produce enough eggs to feed her family. Although five chickens may seem like a substantial amount, they start laying eggs around one year old and stop around five years old. Weather conditions and seasons affect their laying habits as well.

“The current number of five does not allow enough eggs for our family, and with the food sensitivity that we have, it’s best to raise our own eggs,” Stiles said. “We figured out eight chickens would allow us to do this because of how many people are in our family and the number of eggs laid per chickens and how many we consume.”

Stiles said she also took into consideration the molting and breeding habits as well as the weather.

If current owners want to increase their amount of chickens, they’ll have to re-apply for a permit. The board also agreed to issue a size requirement for the coop and pen as well. For one to five chickens, a 20- to 50-square-foot coop is required.

For six to nine chickens, a 36- to 50-square-foot coop is needed. In general, the guideline is two square feet for each chicken, but the city is recommending 10 square feet. The Board of Aldermen accepted the Public Works Board’s recommendation of not allowing owners to re-up their permits if they have had multiple inspections throughout the year.

If neighbors complain, a city worker will come inspect the hen’s habitat and if the conditions don’t change, the city won’t allow the owner to renew their permit.