Kentucky city leaders henpecked by ‘most talked about issue’ in years — chickens

Published 5:48 am Tuesday, June 15, 2021

At its first in-person, open-to-the-public meeting in more than a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some on the Frankfort City Commission said they had been henpecked by one vexing issue — chickens.

The meeting began with a more than hour-long discussion on whether to allow city residents to keep chickens in their backyards.

Several citizens, one donning a chicken suit, spoke in support of the city creating an ordinance that allows residents to keep chickens. Residents from the Silver Lake neighborhood spoke against such an ordinance.

Multiple commissioners acknowledged that the issue has been the most discussed of any in their tenure. Commissioner Kyle Thompson, who is not in favor of allowing chickens, said as much.

“This has been the most talked-about issue, the most controversial issue,” Thompson said. “That is a little frustrating to me, understanding that there are significant needs in terms of economic development and infrastructure that the city has needed for years. But, my position has been and has always been that I am not in favor of urban chickens.”

Thompson cited health concerns, saying, “It may not hurt a ton of people, but it will hurt someone inevitably.”

Much of the public comments rehashed a debate that has been taking place for more than a year by citizens and elected officials about the pros and cons, with advocates extolling the benefits toward self-sufficiency and detractors citing health and nuisance concerns.

James Hale, who has been outspoken about the issue, showed up Monday dressed in a full-body chicken suit to show support for a pro-chicken ordinance.

Hale said that chickens are less dangerous than dogs, and volunteered his own time to help with the creation of an ordinance.

At the end of the lengthy discussion, Frankfort Planning & Community Development Director Eric Cockley was tasked with leading the process for public outreach and engagement as well as research on working toward a solution. Cockley mentioned that the process could work similar to how the city handled recent debate about murals in downtown Frankfort.