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La Grange council considering law to allow chickens in city limits

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By Kenny Colston

A death from an alleged drug deal could lead to the city of La Grange allowing chickens to be owned inside the city limits.

It’s a process La Grange Mayor Bill Lammlein said was hard to follow, but was brought up weeks ago, after a shooting occurred on Washington Street. In that incident, Justin Rogers, 24, was found dead allegedly killed by Henry Schultz-Eggenspiller after police said a drug deal went bad. Schultz-Eggenspiller was originally charged with murder in the case, but the charge was dismissed after a grand jury did not indict him on it.

While investigating the incident, police found chickens in the backyard of a neighboring home, Lammlein said, and accidently let the chickens loose during their investigation.

From there, Lammlein said people started calling City Hall, asking if chickens were legal in the city. Lammlein’s answer: they aren’t. The next response: why not?

That sequence led the council to consider changing the law governing chickens in the city limits.

As the proposal currently reads, the law would be changed to allow chickens as young as one day old to be sold and kept on property within the city limits. It would set a limit of four chickens per property in the city, to be kept in a humane and sanitary manner, according to the ordinance.

It doesn’t allow any other farm animals in the city limits, except those who were grandfathered in under the original law banning them in 1987.

Yet almost as soon as the proposal was given a first reading, city council members wanted to put the ordinance spawned from an alleged murder on its own deathbed.

City councilwoman Melanie Woosley encouraged the council to address roosters in the ordinance, as well as the size of property compared to how many fowl can reside on a property.

At the ordinance committee meeting, the ordinance was changed to continue to ban roosters from the city limits. But after weeks of hearing from citizens, Lammlein said he would probably make a motion to table the ordinance entirely.

“I’m not so sure we should do this,” he said. “At one time I thought it was cool, but now I think we’re opening Pandora’s box.”

Committee chair Tom Goldsmith said the committee should still send the ordinance through to the full council to let them decide the law’s fate. They voted unanimously to do so, while Goldsmith and others were also fine with the mayor pulling the ordinance after explaining why to the full council.

City proposes new sign permits

The council also gave a first reading to a new law requiring sign permits in the city limits and charging a fee for them.

The proposal will only affect new signs within the city limits, not existing signs, Lammlein said. As it’s currently written, new signs would be subject to a $1 fee per square foot and both sides of a sign would be measured for the final fee amount, but almost as soon as the ordinance was given a first reading, Lammlein said the fee could change.

At its meeting a few weeks later the ordinance committee changed the fee to a flat $50 at the request of the mayor, before giving it the green light for a second reading to the full council.

The reason for a new sign permit law, Lammlein said, is due to disagreements with the current process with the Oldham County Planning and Zoning rules. Lammlein said new businesses will often provide lackluster drawings during the planning process that aren’t always accurate, providing problems when approval is given.

The mayor said “the last three or four” sign approvals inside the city “have been wrong,” leading the city to take control.

Unlike the chicken ordinance, Lammlein said the sign requirements are likely to pass at the council’s August meeting.

City approves

new budget

After months of collecting money from the city’s compensation tax, Lammlein informed council members the city had made a $650,000 payment to the principal of bonds related to the Oldham Reserve property two weeks ago, before a recent refinancing of the bonds took place.

The city approved a refinancing through the Kentucky League of Cities weeks ago and new bonds have been sold at an interest rate of 2.4 percent, Lammlein said. The city will now be on the hook for a $100,000 payment every month for the next 10 years, a better deal than they previously had, Lammlein said.

The council also approved a new budget that included the new bond payments, as well as revenue from the compensation tax, at their monthly meeting. But a few council members expressed concern with the budget.

The council then passed the budget 6 to 1, with Councilman Jason Taylor voting no.

Email us about this story at editor@oldhamera.com.