Council allows chickens in city limits

Dec 23, 2012 By Alejandra Silva, Staff Writer

Chickens are here to stay.

The Riverton City Council voted Tuesday to allow residents to own chickens within city limits.

City staff proposed a list of rules for Riverton residents to follow while omitting chickens from the list of prohibited animals. No new ordinance was created.

City staff suggested people own only three to six chickens and not keep them for commercial use.

Councilman Todd Smith disagreed with the commercial use regulation because he said it would restrict people who could sell at a farmers market or to a neighbor.

Mayor Ron Warpness agreed with other council members that residents should be allowed to follow their common sense on caring for their chickens.

"We don't want to inject ourselves into people's private property rights if we don't have to," Warpness said.

He added that regulations would be appropriate, but it's also possible problems may not arise without them.

Catering permits

A split vote determined that catering permits will continue to be approved by the Riverton City Council.

Warpness, Smith and councilman Richard Gard voted against allowing only the city staff to approve catering permits. Councilwoman Mary Ellen Christensen and councilmen Eric Heiser and Lars Baker voted yes for the proposed ordinance.

Councilwoman Diana Mahoney was not present to vote.

Christensen originally presented the idea to the city council saying the change would provide permits sooner by removing the requirement of having to go through a council meeting.

Additionally, she suggested it would allow event planners and sponsors to plan and execute more responsible events.

Christensen said other council members voted against it, in part, because of a memo city attorney Rick Sollars presented saying the state statute requires a "governing body" to approve catering permits.

"The expediting of those permits would be beneficial for everyone on many different levels," Christensen said.

A partially confused council questioned the exact regulations of who can and can't delegate the authority.

Gard and Heiser suggested a Wyoming Attorney General's clarification be presented.

Smith said the council should go with the recommendations of police chief Mike Broadhead and city attorney Rick Sollars who suggested keeping the current ordinance in place.

Warpness said going forth with the ordinance change would be "watering down" the process.

"Our community has such a horrendous problem with alcohol," Warpness said.

He said if people are aware the permit will have to be reviewed by the council then they'll be more responsible, and taking that requirement away would make the alcohol problem in the city worse.

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