Planning Commission reviews animal ordinance

PHOENIX — A Planning Commission meeting today may not resolve the age-old question about the chicken and the egg, but it could help determine whether city residents can keep a few laying hens in their backyards.

Planning commissioners are scheduled to review the city's animal ordinance, which currently prohibits livestock, and discuss whether it should be amended to allow farm animals such as chickens, bees and rabbits.

The meeting is scheduled to convene at 6:30 p.m. at the city's public works annex, 1000 South B St.

The topic of small animals surfaced recently after police received complaints regarding chickens and bees being kept by Phoenix residents Brook Knudsen and Zeb Herinckx at their residence on C Street.

The couple have cited the benefits of fresh eggs and honey, as well as the environmental benefits of keeping chickens and bees.

A neighbor, Joan Smith, who lives on B Street, has concerns about hygiene issues related to chicken coops and safety concerns about bee swarms, and she claims the chickens have attracted rodents to her property.

Smith, a former planning commission member, said recently she would appeal any commission or council decision to allow chickens within city limits.

Planning Director Laurel Prairie Kuntz said ordinances from nearby cities will be reviewed and discussed, and residents will have an opportunity to provide reasons to allow — or not allow — certain types of food animals.

Kuntz said animal ordinances vary from city to city.

"A lot of cities don't say anything about chickens, thereby not prohibiting them, and some cities prohibit them," Kuntz said.

"Our meeting is not to make a decision," she said, "but, as the council asked, to discuss the issue and make a recommendation."

Knudsen said recently that whether the ordinance is changed, she is "glad to see there could at least be a conversation."

Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at

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