The owner of property that annoyed his neighbors enough to complain to Marion city council two weeks ago came to Monday’s council meeting to speak for himself.
“I don’t know what I need to do before the issue is resolved,” Alan Stapleford told council members.
Two weeks ago Nickolas Hett and his wife, Ann Hett, showed council members photos of Alan and Jennifer Stapleford’s property at 716 S. Roosevelt St., voicing their annoyance over about 20 chickens, dogs often running at large, and a cluttered yard with odor and debris blowing into neighboring yards along with smoke from a fire pit.
“I’m tired of having to see, smell, hear, and clean up after my neighbor’s property,” Nickolas Hett told council members.
The subject was put on this week’s meeting agenda by Mayor Todd Heitschmidt so the council could review existing animal codes.
Stapleford said he’d met with police and believed he’d done everything possible to comply with city ordinances without removing the chickens.
“I’m not willing to remove the chickens until my daughter graduates high school,” Stapleford said.
Stapleford said city ordinance reads that a resident can have 20 chickens, but council members didn’t agree.
The ordinance as currently written doesn’t specify any number of chickens that can be kept in the city, council members agreed.
“Our neighbors bought the house knowing the chickens were there,” Stapleford contended.
Heitschmidt said the condition of Stapleford’s property doesn’t conform to city code.
“I particularly don’t like your tarp,” Heitschmidt said.
Council member Chris Costello said current ordinance speaks to raising poultry for consumption.
“I think it raises the question of how many eggs someone can eat in a day,” Costello said.
Costello also suggested a limit on how many chickens can be kept.
Council member Chad Adkins said the council probably did a poor job when they last revised city code, but his own intention was simply to allow residents to own chickens if they wanted. He also told Stapleford that the problem is also dogs not being cleaned up after and feathers and other debris flying over the fence into neighbors’ yards.
Stapleford asked if the council had looked at all animal codes and was told all animal-related codes are under review.
City attorney Susan Robson recommended that the ordinance be amended to include a limit for chickens. She also recommended revision of the dog leash law.
“If you decide to change the ordinance, you can delay the taking of effect for 30-60 days upon being published, or just state that affected parties have 30-60 days to become compliant,” Robson said.
Council members told her to draft proposed amendments.
In other matters, council members:
- Installed Melissa Mermis and Chris Costello to the council after their wins in the election;
- Gave the nod to an agreement with Kansas Department of Transportation to resurface a portion of K-256 that becomes Main Street in the city; and
- Approved the use of Community Development Block Grant funds for work at East Park.