City close to allowing more chickens in town

By Dennis Sharkey, Editor
Posted 6/1/23

The city of Mexico is close to changing the city’s ordinances concerning chickens which would make it easier for more residents to own them.

The city council heard recommendations and …

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City close to allowing more chickens in town


The city of Mexico is close to changing the city’s ordinances concerning chickens which would make it easier for more residents to own them.

The city council heard recommendations and suggestions from city staff at a regular meeting on May 22, after the city’s planning and zoning commission weighed in on the subject earlier this month. Community Development Director Rita Jackson told councilmembers there are pros and cons to allowing more residents to own chickens. The pro side is the availability of fresh eggs and chicken with the cons being mostly centered around complaints from neighbors and upkeep by the owner.

Jackson said city staff did a random survey and 80 percent of the properties selected in town would meet the criteria for owning chickens under some new regulations being considered. Current city regulations only allow for 10 chickens per acre with a 200-foot setback from the property line. Jackson said not many properties in the city would qualify. Jackson said the city does not know of anyone owning chickens in the city. However, the city does from time to time have to pick up stray chickens.

“Currently we have chickens but we have no way of knowing where those chickens are located,” Jackson told the council. “They’re either running at large or maybe a neighbor would call to let us know.”

Jackson said the city looked at several other cities in Missouri of different sizes including bigger cities like Columbia and Cape Girardeau to cities smaller or around the same size like Moberly, Cameron, and Centralia.

The suggestions the planning and zoning along with city staff presented included allowing five or six chickens on lots at least 60 feet wide with a setback from any property line of 25 feet. Residents would have to register and get a license at the city’s animal control facility along with paying a small fee. The chickens would be required to be kept in a coop and said coop would have to be inspected before the permit is issued. Chicken owners would also have to clean twice a week and would be subject to random inspections. Jackson said all of the permitting would have to be completed before the chickens are allowed.

“We don’t want you to get your chickens and then come to the city,” Jackson said.

Councilman Chris Williams asked if there would be any penalties or recourse for a person who isn’t following the regulations. Williams said he was concerned about smell issues and said the city already has a hard time enforcing ordinances.

“Anybody who lived in the country knows a coop can smell pretty bad if they’re not taking care of it,” Williams said.

Councilman Larry Webber asked Jackson if the city would have to hire more staff if these new regulations were put in place. Jackson said it would require more time off the city’s staff and did say it was possible additional staff would be needed. Williams said the city will have to increase the permitting fees if an additional person needs to be hired.

“Are we going to hire somebody so some people can have six fresh eggs a day?” Williams asked.

Others on the council like Chris Miller and Steve Haag don’t think there will be enough interest to generate the need for an additional city staff person. Haag questioned whether other cities had big spikes in people wanting chickens.

“Ordinances are one thing and we can assume what’s going to happen,” Haag said. “It makes it sound like 2,000 people in Mexico are going to have chickens once we pass this and I don’t know if that’s going to be true.”

Both men also took issue with a suggestion that those seeking a permit be required to take a class. Miller asked if people who already own chickens or have in the past need to be “grandfathered into the ordinance.”

“It’s offensive to me that we’re going to teach them how to take care of chickens,” Miller said.

Mayor Vicki Briggs asked about a timeline for when staff could have an ordinance in writing that could be voted on. Jackson said an ordinance could be ready by the next meeting on June 12.