MONTICELLO — With a tweak that could grandfather in current setback guidelines for chickens, the Monticello City Council could vote on its animal ordinance rewrite on Dec. 10.
This week, aldermen were staunch on their stance against livestock and horses, but seemed willing to allow the current 75-foot setback to be grandfathered in for current chicken owners. The proposed rewrite mandates there be 150 feet between a chicken house and neighbor dwellings.
"I personally have a problem that people bought property with one set of rules, and we're completely changing those rules," said alderman Kevin Hiller.
"There's got to be a way to set things up," for current owners of chickens, added Hiller.
Earlier in the meeting, several members of the audience questioned the move to double the setback distance.
"Where does the 150-foot setback come from?" asked Stacy Cribbs. "Why did it get doubled?"
Mayor Chris Corrie said the distance was consistent with ordinances from several other towns.
No vote was taken on the ordinance, but council members were sticking by the proposals to limit animals, most notably livestock. If approved, up to six chickens (hens only) would be allowed, but no horses, sheep or other livestock. Current animal owners would have until January 2014 to come into compliance.
Cody Santantonio, the owner of the Metamorphosis Montessori school in Monticello, had asked for an exemption for educational purposes, but that is not part of the proposed ordinance.
"I'm just trying to preserve this little school in the state it should be," she said. The school housed two sheep until informed earlier this year that it violated city code. If the rewrite is approved, a miniature horse purchased in the fall would also have to go.
Metamorphosis neighbor Nancy Brazas said she is sorry the issue has pitted friends against each other.
"This is not an attack on the school, this is not an attack on their program, this is not an attack on Cody. This has to do with animals that can become a nuisance in the city limits, and that is why we're here," she added.
The council will hold a work session Dec. 3 to figure out the details on grandfathering in the setback for current owners of chickens. The ordinance is likely to be voted on Dec. 10.