Commissioner Kim Canada said he doesn’t want to take up the application from Chris and Erin Lewis until there’s a policy in place on urban poultry.
“It was wrong for the planning commission to recommend denial on this, then take up a text amendment in January and possibly pass it,” he said during a heated debate at the board’s last caucus.
The board first received the Lewises’ application in October, but sent it back to the Rome-Floyd County Planning Commission, which had already recommended denial.
At the same time, City Commissioners asked the volunteer planning commission members to consider a possible change to the ordinance governing chickens in the city.
The planning commission agreed early this month to revisit the issue in January, but voted again to reject the Lewises’ application.
“This came here because of (a complaint from) the neighbors,” member Frank Brown said.
Canada and Commissioner Buzz Wachsteter expressed frustration last week that the larger urban poultry issue is still not settled, but it’s unclear if there’s an answer that will satisfy the full board.
It’s an open secret that a number of families are raising poultry for personal use, but the elected commission has twice rejected an ordinance that would have regulated the activity.
A majority on the board said they don’t want the animals within the city limits, yet they’re asking the planning commission for a third time to consider creating a policy. A draft proposal that would have required annual registration drew fire from Canada, who said he wants each case to be considered individually at a public hearing.
On top of that, planning commission members are similarly divided whenever they make a recommendation on backyard chickens.
“We’re a laughingstock,” Wachsteter said, when he saw the Lewis hearing back on the agenda, and Commissioner Bill Collins laughingly agreed.
“We need to stop talking about this and just do it,” Collins chuckled. “The egg is already on our face.”
The board caucuses at 5 p.m. and starts its regular meeting at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 601 Broad St. Both sessions are open to the public.