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Kaplan residents can own as many birds as they want; Council did adopt requirements to raise birds

KAPLAN — Good news for poultry owners in Kaplan. You can own as many roosters, chickens, and birds as you want. However, it has to be under certain conditions.
The Kaplan council was looking at adopting a new ordinance dealing with domestic poultry such as ducks, chickens, and doves.
The proposed poultry ordinance had six guidelines for Kaplan residents to follow.
For this ordinance, the word “bird” refers to any domestic poultry such as chickens, ducks, dove, etc. Wild game is prohibited within the corporation limits.
When the vote was taken, the city council voted to remove Guideline 1 and Guideline 2, but keep guidelines 3 through 6.
Here are the proposed guidelines.
• Guideline 1: The maximum number of birds allowed per residence will be eight. Each bird should have a minimum of 2 square feet of roosting space. (removed)
• Guideline 2: One rooster per residence will be allowed within the corporate limits. (removed)
• Guideline 3: Birds must be confined to a coop or outdoor run on your property, meaning constant free-ranging is not allowed. (adopted)
• Guideline 4: Birds must have constant access to nourishment and cannot disrupt the neighborhood. (adopted)
• Guideline 5: Premises on which birds are kept shall be maintained to prevent disagreeable odors arising from there or the presence or breeding of flies, mosquitoes and other pests. (adopted)
• Guideline 6: This ordinance excludes schools and educational departments that raise birds for approved educational purposes. (adopted)
Before the vote, Kaplan residents were able to address the council about limiting the number of birds Kaplan residents could own.
Ray Gaspard, a resident of Kaplan, explained his issue with part of the ordinance that he is afraid will take effect.
“I raise birds and feel that if a man maintains his yard, and takes care of his animals, he should be able to keep more than that,” Gaspard said. “If the birds get out, then have the authorities enforce, but I feel that for the board to rule on what a man could have in his home or on his private property, is not right.”
Gaspard added that any person with reason would not have too many, raising birds is part of the history, here in the south and in Kaplan, and for most, it is the livelihood of families and how food is put on the table, as another native said.
Misty Robinson and Irvin Cates, both residents in Kaplan spoke on behalf of their children during public comment. Cates said that for his household, though he did not grow up in Kaplan, he decided to raise chickens as a lesson and form of experience and responsibility for his children.
“We do raise our chickens as pets, but for the eggs as well,” he said. Contributing to his neighbors, who appreciates the fresh eggs.
He feels that if an owner keeps up with the chickens and the environment that the chickens are raised in; there should not be an issue with the number of chickens a household can raise.
“Chickens do get out. I have had some that have gotten killed, it happens, but please don’t take away from some of our kids who are learning this type of responsibility,” Cates added.
Robinson agreed with both Cates and Gaspard saying, “I am not from this community, unfortunately, but my husband and I do own a home here,” she said. “I have two young boys who go outside and feed their chickens who are well taken care of.”
Robinson said that her children consider these birds as pets and raise the concern that her children will have to decide which pet they have to get rid of to follow the ordinance.
“I feel that if this happens, you are taking that away from my children who enjoy it. My young boys grew up with these chickens, and I don’t think it is fair to force them to get rid of their pets,” Robinson added.
The focus on last night’s meeting was to have everyone in agreement with these ordinance items. The residents and bird owners were all in understanding that birds are a significant factor in a lot of the city’s households.
From eggs to meat, poultry is a delicacy, but can also become expensive for some families. Raising poultry is not only a hobby, a responsibility lesson, nor is it only about freedom in your own yard, but residents let it be known that it is a way of life, it is a way for some to make money, put food on their tables and feed their children. Limiting the number to how many birds can be kept was the topic of the meeting.
Kaplan Councilwoman Melissa Guidry asked her constituents how they felt about this ordinance and collected the same opinions, “They basically all told me that we shouldn’t be able to tell them they can only have so many chickens,” Guidry said.
Guidry called the police department to ask how many complaints were actually made about chickens since 2018, and there were only two.
Mayor Mike Kloesel replied, “The only reason this ordinance comes up to you is because of the complaints that we gotten here at city hall in the past, that’s why I’m asking you to make a decision today.”
The Mayor said that after so many complaints, something has to be done, we had to come up with an ordinance, allow the board to discuss it, get feedback from the residents that it directly affects, and see if there is an agreement that can be formed.
“It’s definitely not about taking things away, it’s about making sure we can reach an agreement that everyone could live with, whether you love chickens or not,” he said. “We mainly do not want fighting roosters, it is prohibited and is the sole purpose of this ordinance, and that was what was brought to the city hall in the first place.”
The Mayor said that he wants to make sure that people know that he doesn’t want Kaplan to be known as a place to go to buy your fighting roosters. That could deeply affect the new retirement community that they have worked so hard to gain.
“Fighting roosters is against the law, but raising fighting roosters is not. They are still being raised, and they are still being fought,” he said, “My initial thought was to protect these chickens, all of them. Let us make sure that if you are going to raise chickens, you will be a responsible chicken owner, supplying nourishment, water, cages, all of it. The decision is yours. I don’t have a vote in this, but had to bring it to your attention.”
The board was able to come to an agreement after District C Councilman Justin Johnson fought for the rights of bird owners.
“I think some of this ordinance is okay,” he said. “I, too, have gone door to door asking if anyone had an issue with chickens, whether it was neighbors who had them, etc. Overwhelmingly, they told me to leave the chickens alone.”
Johnson added that these people didn’t mind the chickens, but if there is an issue with the roosters, that they would agree, so deal with the roosters only and leave the chickens out of it.
“They did agree that certain limitations should be enforced such as cages, nourishment, containment, things like that. They agreed they should be fenced in and kept within the property, but not to set a maximum/minimum number of birds,” Johnson added. “I feel as if there are far greater problems in Kaplan than counting how many chickens someone has. Limitations should be set and if it does become a nuisance, than the city and/or the cops would take care of that problem. The more we keep coming down with these real particular ordinances, the more we squeeze the life out of this town, as well as the spirit.”
Johnson mentioned taking out ‘some’ of the ordinance limitations since he agrees with most of the items on the ordinance. He asked to have #1 struck out, limiting the number of chickens one could have.
“I would like to see how many people actually complained about this, because if there are very few, I don’t think the majority of the city should be suffering because of it and I think that the problem should be handled as it is brought up,” Johnson said.
Councilwoman Eva Dell Morrison said she would vote to amend the ordinance by eliminating number 1 and number 2 out. Therefore not limiting the number of roosters or chickens that a resident can have, Councilman John Carbaugh agreed, as did the entire board, keeping sections 3, 4, 5 and 6 and voting numbers 1 and 2 to be omitted from the ordinance.

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