The Fort Smith Board of Directors on Tuesday (Aug. 1) approved an ordinance that amends the fowl ordinance adopted July 11 that will allow property owners of large tracts of land to increase the number of fowl they can have on their property.
The board agreed July 11 to an ordinance to limit the number of fowl, which includes ducks and female chickens only, to 20 on lots over a half acre. The ordinance made it clear that roosters are not allowed in the city limits. At the time the ordinance was passed, the board asked city administration to come back with a recommendation regarding city lots over five acres.
The board was presented with an amendment to the ordinance Tuesday night that requires property owners with five or more acres who desire more than 20 fowl to receive conditional use approval through the Planning Commission. By requiring conditional use approval, property owners of larger lots will be able to request additional fowl and go through a public hearing process, said Maggie Rice, director of development services.
Director Neal Martin asked that the amendment to the ordinance be changed to grandfather in those who have lots over five acres and have more than 20 fowl on their property. He said he knows of two such properties. Rice said there are 179 residential parcels in Fort Smith that are over five acres. She said in the past 10 years, there has been one complaint about fowl on any of those properties. She noted that her office receives complaints weekly regarding fowl in the city.
Director Kevin Settle opposed grandfathering any property owners into the new ordinance because there would be no way for the city to know if anyone has more than 20 fowl without them applying for a conditional use approval process.
“I am OK with this process. I trust the planning department to be reasonable (regarding the conditional use approval),” Settle said.
Director Lavon Morton suggested a requirement be added to the grandfather clause that would require any property owner with a lot larger than five acres and more than 20 fowl to file a form with the city by Sept. 30 stating how many fowl they have on their property as of this day and for the exception to not then allow them to add more.
This grandfather stipulation would allow those property owners to keep their fowl without having to pay the $350 fee needed to file for a conditional use.
The board agreed by a vote of five to two to this changed version of the amendment, thus giving property owners who already have more than 20 fowl on their property that is over five acres to keep the number of fowl they have without going in front of the planning commission and for those wishing to have more than 20 fowl in the future the ability to file for conditional use.
Rice and City Administrator Carl Geffken said the city would notify the 179 property owners who qualify for the amendment by letter of the decisions. Notices also will go out through the city’s website notification system and on social media, Rice said.