Friday, January 21, 2011

Draft Outline of New Food-Producing Animals Ordinance

 
To read the actual draft ordinance language -- updated from the outline! -- click here.

If you'd like to read a version of the draft outline that is formatted nicely into a chart (the version created by Community Planning and Development) click on this link.

Updated on 1/27/11. Updated information is in red.

We are pleased to share with you the draft outline for a new Food-Producing Animals ordinance for Denver. It was prepared as a collaborative effort with Community Planning and Development (zoning), the Department of Environmental Health (animal control), and the City Attorney's office.
As part of the process for creating this draft, the team compiled detailed information on successful FPA ordinances in other major cities across the country, as well as our neighboring cities along the Front Range. The group also looked at an analysis of the impact of chicken ordinances on cities, as part of a study done through De Paul university.

The most important thing to convey about this draft is that it's just what the name implies. It's not in any way final. It's a proposal, which is subject to change. However, I think it's a great starting point for a new FPA ordinance for Denver.

This draft outline proposes the keeping of a limited number of FPAs (8 female fowl, 2 dwarf dairy goats) without requiring a permit. However, just as was done when Denver enacted its beekeeping ordinance, there are some guidelines for keeping the animals. Significant care was taken to be sure that the guidelines were reasonable, and would not prevent those with even a modest amount of yard from raising FPAs.

The guidelines exist for 3 purposes:
- To require the keeping of the animals in a way that supports their basic welfare
- To mitigate the potential impact of the animals on the surrounding neighborhood
- To (hopefully) address the fears of anyone who would oppose this ordinance. For example, some people oppose the idea of chickens in the city by saying "People will be keeping chickens on balconies! People will be keeping chickens in apartments!" etc. The guidelines exist to provide a common-sense answer to those kinds of concerns.

Please see below for the draft outline. The changes are divided into two sections. The first are the changes to Denver's Zoning Code, and the second are changes to the Animal Code. The elements in blue are proposed changes. The italic green writing are comments from Sustainable Food Denver on the draft outline.
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Food Producing Animals in the City of Denver
Proposed Ordinance Changes
Prepared by Community Planning and Development Department, Department of Environmental Health (Animal Control), and the City Attorney’s Office for Councilmember Chris Nevitt and the Mayor’s Sustainable Food Policy Council. This document is a draft for public review and discussion. Provisions outlined below remain subject to change as public review continues.

What?

Proposed ordinance changes to the Denver Zoning Code and the Animal Code (D.M.C., Chapter 8) to change the current allowances for Food Producing Animals (FPAs). Food Producing Animals include fowl (chickens, ducks) that produce eggs, and dwarf goats that produce milk.

Proposed Amendment to the Denver Zoning Code

Intent of Amendment:
Promote the keeping of Food Producing Animals and concurrent food access and food security benefits, where most appropriate, while assuring compatibility with existing land uses and minimization of any adverse impacts on neighboring properties or neighborhood character.

Purpose for Amendment:
Denver currently allows FPAs in all zone districts as an accessory (secondary) use to a primary residential use. Before Denver residents may keep FPAs, they must submit an application to the city for a Zoning Permit with Informational Notice (“ZPIN”). The process for granting a ZPIN includes providing written notice to registered neighborhood organizations, as well as posting a sign on the subject property informing the public that a permit has been requested, and inviting comment. In addition to providing the standard ZPIN notice just described, an applicant wanting to keep Food Producing Animals must also notify abutting homeowners and request letters of support. The Denver Zoning Administrator considers the ZPIN application and all public comments, and decides whether to approve, approve with conditions, or deny the permit application.

The proposed Denver Zoning Code amendment would:

1. Change the zoning review process for keeping Food Producing Animals by allowing a set number and type of FPAs without a ZPIN process, similarly to how Denver allows its residents to keep dogs, cats, and domestic honeybees.
     a. Keeping FPAs would, as with domestic honeybees, be subject to specific standards to avoid any potential impacts on neighboring properties.
     b. Just as with keeping of other animals, if a resident does not follow the required zoning standards (typically discovered after a complaint is made to the city), the City can issue a notice of violation and work with the resident to correct any problems. If problems are not timely corrected, the City may take more formal action to abate the problem through municipal court.

2. Allow FPAs to be kept not only on residential properties, but also on properties occupied by civic or institutional users, such as schools or churches, or occupied by restaurants.

Summary of Denver Zoning Code Amendment

Allowed or Not Allowed

Expressly list specific types of FPAs allowed as an accessory use:
1. Maximum of 8 chickens/ducks (no roosters) per zone lot.
2. Maximum 2 dwarf goats and any number of their offspring younger than 6 months, per zone lot. No intact male dwarf goat older than 6 weeks may be kept on the zone lot.


Male animals are prohibited primarily to minimize noise and odor impacts. “Dwarf goats” will be defined to allow only Nigerian Dwarf or African Pygmy species (commonly raised for their milk).

Maintain the current use allowance and ZPIN review process for any FPAs not listed above and applications to keep more than the maximum number specified. See DZC, Section 11.8.6.B.

Type of Use/Where Allowed

Allow keeping FPAs as accessory use to the following primary uses in all zones (note: no change to primary “animal husbandry” use allowed in certain Industrial and Open Space zone districts):
1. Residential Uses
2. Civic/Institutional Uses
This includes schools, churches, and nursing homes.
3. Urban Gardens and Greenhouse Uses
4. Restaurants (Eating & Drinking Establishments)


Zoning Review Process

For the specific FPA types listed above, and provided the maximum numbers are not exceeded:
1. No zoning permit required
2. No public notice required
This is a critical part of the proposed changes -- you can have up to 8 fowl and 2 dwarf goats without a permit!
For all other types of FPAs and/or more than the allowed maximum number, a Zoning Permit with Informational Notice (ZPIN) required

Use Limitations

1. No on-site slaughtering allowed.
2. Structures housing the FPAs must be located at least 10 feet from any structure containing a dwelling unit on abutting properties.
Any dwelling built within the last 55 years must have a 5 foot setback from the side property lines. So, that means that (at most) you would need to keep your FPA shelter 5 feet from your own property line, since the neighbor's house would also be set back 5 feet from their property line. However, some older dwellings are built right up to the side property line. In that situation, you could place your shelter further back on the lot, so that (if you were to draw a diagonal line) it would still be 10 feet from the neighbor's dwelling
People can build  their homes right up to the rear property line, so if the neighbor behind you has built their house in that way, your FPA shelter will need to stay 10 feet from that. However, this applies only to the FPA shelter itself. Your chickens and goats are free to wander in their fenced area, including up to the property line.
3. As accessory to a primary residential use, FPA use must be maintained within the rear 50% of the zone lot. Zoning Administrator may approve exceptions to this standard based on a site’s physical characteristics through an administrative process (no public hearing or public notice).

Zoning Enforcement

No Change. Neighborhood Inspection Services (NIS) will inspect after complaints; work with owner to correction violations; issue notice of violation orders; follow-up with more formal, court-ordered remedies as necessary.

Proposed Amendment to the Denver Animal Code

Intent:
Assure the long-term care, health and welfare of Food Producing Animals; prevent the spread of disease; prevent cruelty and neglect to animals; and protect adjacent properties from adverse impacts due to animal escape or to improper care or treatment of animals or their waste.

Purpose for Amendment:
Keeping of Food Producing Animals currently requires either fowl or livestock permits issued by the Denver Department of Environmental Health (DEH). The DEH permit process includes a pre-permit inspection and an annual inspection/renewal of the permit. In addition to permit requirements, Denver’s animal control laws (D.M.C., Chapter 8) include generally applicable standards that control an owner’s treatment or management of domestic animals, including prohibitions on herding or grazing, proper handling of animal waste, prohibition on damages to public or other private property, and prevention of cruelty and neglect to animals. These generally applicable standards would apply equally to FPAs, without any need for amendment, except as specifically listed below.


The proposed amendment to the Denver Animal Code (D.M.C., Chapter 8) would:
1. Change the DEH process for keeping Food Producing Animals by allowing a set number and type of FPAs without requiring a DEH livestock or fowl permit or annual permit renewal, similar to how Denver allows its residents to keep dogs, cats, honeybees, and other domestic animals. Keeping of different types of FPAs other than chicken, ducks or goats, or keeping more than the maximum allowed number of FPAs as set by the Denver Zoning Code, would still required a livestock or fowl permit.
     a. Keeping a limited number of FPAs would, as with dogs and cats, be subject to specific standards under the Animal Code to assure the long-term health and welfare of the animals and to protect neighboring properties from any potential adverse impacts due to the improper care or management of the animals.
     b. Just as with keeping of other animals, if an owner does not follow the required animal control standards (typically discovered after a complaint is made to DEH’s animal control division), DEH will work with the animal owner to correct the problem and, if necessary, issue a citation or summons. If problems are not timely corrected, the City may take more formal action to abate the problem through the Denver County court.

2. Expand the current animal licensing laws to require licensing for dwarf goats to facilitate return of the animal to its owner should the animal escape. [This provision is still under review by DEH/Animal Control.]
This may end up being deemed unnecessary by Animal Control.

3. Expand the current “leash law,” which now applies only to dogs, to also apply to goats, such that it would be unlawful for goats to run “off leash” when not contained on the owner’s private property.

4. Expand the current “barking dog nuisance” ordinance to include protection from FPA animal noise. As with dogs, the city may not issue a summons against a FPA owner unless there are at least two or more complaining witnesses from separate households.

Summary of Animal Code Amendment

Allowed or Not Allowed

No change.

Process (Permits, Licensing, Public Notice)

For the specific types and maximum number of FPAs allowed in the Denver Zoning Code:
1. No livestock or fowl permit is required
2. Animal license required for goats only [this provision is still being reviewed by DEH]

For all other FPA types and/or for more than the allowed number, a DEH livestock/fowl permit from DEH will still be required.

Limitations

Require the following:
1. Fowl: 4 sq. ft. of permeable land area per chicken or duck.
2. Goats: 130 sq. ft. of permeable land per goat, plus at least 15 sq. ft. of shelter space per goat
3. All FPAs:
     a. Adequate shelter/enclosure must be provided to protect the animals from the elements and to prevent wildlife or other predators from gaining entry.
     b. Adequate fencing shall be provided to contain the animals to prevent escape.
     c. Animal noise will be controlled similar to how barking dogs are controlled.
     d. FPAs will be subject to the Denver leash law.

Generally applicable standards controlling cruelty to animals, proper handling of waste, prevention of damage to public or private property, and control of other animal nuisances will continue to apply to FPAs as they do today.

Enforcement

No change.

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So, there you have it! If you currently own FPAs, want to own FPAs, or just care about urban sustainable food systems, let us know what you think.

18 comments:

garbanzito said...

wow you already have a very complete draft and this is the first almost anyone has seen of it

it sounds like there was a lot of work that has gone into this proposal; i see your post on 19 December about the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council, and it mentions it was appointed by the mayor and had already had two meetings by that point, however there appears to be no information whatsoever about the Sustainable Food Policy Council on denvergov.org

can you tell us when this council was formed and who is on it? is there a more official place to find information about this council's activities?

i would like to see this council in action -- when and where is the next meeting?

Sundari said...

@garbanzito -- Thank you for your interest in sustainable food policy! I'd be interested to know what you think about the actual content of this blog post. What do you think of the draft outline?

Although I serve on the Sustainable Food Policy Council, I am not involved in planning the meetings or coordinating any of those details. I am also not in charge of setting up a website for the group, nor was I involved in the group's formation. All questions related to those matters can go to Katherine Cornwell. She works for the city in the Department of Environmental Health, and can be reached at katherine.cornwell@denvergov.org

p.s. -- Since you're obviously a big fan of transparency, maybe you'll tell me who you are?

Jon said...

This looks great and can't wait to see it come to fruition. Keep us posted on when we need to show our support. Thanks for all your work on it! Cheers- Jon O.

garbanzito said...

for now i have mixed feelings; the intent is good, the process of getting to this point seems messy, the details seem overwrought

regarding standards protecting the welfare of animals and the the welfare of neighbors, there is no point to this unless someone is also going to step up enforcement of other widely-flaunted restrictions, e.g. the dog leash and litter laws

regarding adequate shelter to protect FPAs from wildlife, that seems like a slippery slope -- should chickens always be under wire net roofs to prevent predatory birds from getting them?

i note some small errors: many homes in Denver have less than 5 feet of side setback (sometimes none); not a big deal but the current comment is slightly misleading; also cats and dogs do currently require permits (called "licenses") at $15/year, though enforcement of this rule is very poor

i will be glad to comment more on the draft when it becomes a true public process; i am uncomfortable that you have avoided some of my questions by implying you don't have a critical role, even though by posting the draft here it seems like you have taken the lead on publicity

regarding transparency, it is not at all the same issue for a private individual as it is for government committees (i am not setting public policy); i have attempted to contact you privately to tell you "who i am"

Sundari said...

@Jon -- Thanks! I'll be in touch soon.

@Garbanzito -- Thank you for your comments. I'll try to address them as thoroughly as I can.

Re: the process -- I don't think that the process of creating the ordinance itself has been messy. In fact, it's been pretty orderly and undertaken with great care, which is why the draft is as thorough (or as overwrought, depending on your point of view) as it is. You can read more about the steps that were involved in creating the ordinance, and where it's headed from here, by reading this post: http://bit.ly/g3j35K What has admittedly has been messy has been the confusion around the FPA ordinance vs. the chicken ballot initiative, which I wrote about here: http://bit.ly/dLmpcp

Re: overwrought details -- Yes, the draft outline is fairly detailed. I know that some of it may seem pedantic. However, as I mentioned in the post, a lot of care was taken so that the guidelines outlined in the ordinance were reasonable and would not "zone" someone out of the ability to keep chickens (the way that guidelines like a 30-foot setback do in some other cities). In a perfect world, we wouldn't need to set guidelines like these. However, there are a lot of people who would like to raise a stink about chickens in the city based on concerns about people keeping them inappropriately. For example (for what it's worth), the Denver Post editorial board said that they'd support a chicken-keeping ordinance that contained guidelines, but not something that was essentially a free-for-all. Showing that we've put some common-sense guidelines in the ordinance will hopefully help to appease the nay-sayers.

And, of course, the draft outline is truly just a draft. It's a starting point, which is being presented for public input. I'm sure that the outline will be modified as it proceeds through the process. (to be continued...)

Sundari said...

(continued)
Re: standards protecting the animals etc -- Yes, it's true that no law is perfectly enforced. Yet we don't take that as a reason to not enact any laws at all. Also, we don't use the imperfect enforcement of laws as a reason to prohibit everyone from engaging in an activity. For example, just because not every speeder gets a ticket, we don't say that no one is allowed to drive. So, there's no reason that we can't let FPAs (which are actually quieter and pose less of a hazard to neighbors than dogs) exist under the same leash, noise, odor, nuisance, etc laws that govern other animals in our city.

Re: adequate shelter -- I understand your concern about this issue. However, the ordinance just states that an adequate shelter must be provided. The animals are not required to spend all of their time inside the shelter. For example, in my backyard, I have a secure chicken coop where my chickens spend the night. During the day they're free to roam their little fenced barnyard, and seek shelter from the elements whenever they see fit. That kind of situation is intended to be allowed under the new ordinance. However, I will double-check with the Asst City Attorney to be sure that the ordinance couldn't be punitively interpreted to require netting over a barnyard, or other such things.

Re: setback of residential dwellings -- I am in no way a zoning expert, but in the process of creating the draft outline a principal city planner (who works for Community Planning & Development) told us that residential dwellings must have a 5-foot setback from side property lines. This is an important point to me -- we put in the 10' rule to appease those who would fear that their neighbor would put a chicken coop right under their bedroom window. However, I'm not comfortable with asking folks to accommodate more than a 5' setback for the coop from their own property line. I'll double check with the city planner. The reason we didn't just say "5' setback from your side property line" was because if your neighbor's home was farther than 5' from their property line, we wanted chicken owners to be able to move the coop closer to the fence if they saw fit.

Re: pet licenses -- Dogs and cats do not require a permit. They require a license, which is a vastly different process. If you submit proof of vaccination, you will automatically be awarded a (relatively inexpensive) pet license, with no additional questions asked. This is very different from the current permitting process for FPAs, or any other possible permitting process (like a zoning permit without public notice) that has been proposed for FPAs. Under the dog and cat licensing, there is no attention paid to whether you live in a home or apartment, how much land you have available, what kind of structure/protection you're providing for the animal, etc. And there certainly is no public notice and invitation for public comment, as there is with our current FPA rules. A dog/cat license is not at all the same as a permit. (to be continued...)

Sundari said...

(Continued)
Re: avoiding questions -- I think there's a little bit of conflating one process with another going on here. In your previous comment, you asked me a series of questions about the Sustainable Food Policy Council. The SFPC -- and how it was created, how it's run, etc -- is a completely separate issue from the creation of the draft FPA outline that I posted on the blog. When it comes to the SFPC (as I said) I am someone who agreed to serve on the council, but I am not the person who is most well-versed in all of its details. My response to you was not an attempt to avoid you, but to direct you to the person who could best answer your questions regarding the SFPC. That person is Katherine Cornwell katherine.cornwell@denvergov.org, and I know she welcomes email inquiries on this matter.

I am also not taking the "lead" in publicity. All of the 25 or so members of the SFPC (http://bit.ly/dGwxyI) were asked to distribute the draft outline for the FPA ordinance in whatever way they saw fit. Some of them may be emailing it privately to their members; I don't know. I wanted to put it publicly on the web, so that's what I did.

So, to be clear, I serve on the SFPC but was not instrumental in its formation or its organization. Until last Thursday, when the draft outline of the FPA ordinance was presented, the SFPC had nothing to do with the FPA issue. At this point the SFPC is taking the draft outline into consideration, and will decide as a group what their recommendations are.

What I was involved in, in my role as an advocate with Sustainable Food Denver (NOT the SFPC) was the crafting of the draft outline. It was done by a small working group that consisted of people from Community Planning & Development, the Department of Environmental Health, the City Attorney's office, and Councilman Nevitt. This group's task was to "get the ball rolling" and come up with a starting point for public discussion. All public discussions have to start somewhere, so this group did a lot of research of successful ordinances in other cities, and came up with something that could potentially work for Denver. I really did my best to advocate for those that want to keep FPAs, but I'm sure that the draft outline isn't perfect. That's why it's a draft, and why we're looking for public input.

garbanzito said...

thanks for the answers; all are helpful, but you should know the 5-foot rule applies to new buildings in certain zone districts; and there is a process for exceptions to this rule and most importantly Denver has a lot of old buildings that do not conform to the rule; in my neighborhood there are many single family homes on 25 foot wide lots that are built right on the property line

except for one other, i can accept your answers, though it's unfortunate that some of the language of the ordinance is effectively there for public relations purposes

but most importantly, i am having a really hard time accepting the "completely separate" claim; why? in this original blog post it wasn't really clear who prepared the draft -- you mentioned "the team" and you wrote "[the draft] was prepared as a collaborative effort with Community Planning and Development (zoning), the Department of Environmental Health (animal control), and the City Attorney's office", and then the draft itself states "Prepared by Community Planning and Development Department, Department of Environmental Health (Animal Control), and the City Attorney’s Office for Councilmember Chris Nevitt and the Mayor’s Sustainable Food Policy Council."

so at the time i responded, the distinction was not even remotely clear; i now see you've posted details on the SFPC (thanks!), and that you are co-chair of the SFPC; further, in an email you listed five organizations besides your own that were involved with the draft, three of whose directors are also on the SFPC, and since SFPC also has two members from CPD and one from DEH, from all appearances, the draft "team" seems to have effectively been a subcommittee of the SFPC

further, in another blog post you wrote "Right now a couple of members of the SFPC are working with folks from City Council and city staff (Department of Environmental Health/Animal Control and Community Planning & Development) to sketch an outline for a comprehensive FPA ordinance." and then "The Sustainable Food Policy Council needs to work proactively with city staff to craft and recommend an ordinance for City Council adoption" (i hadn't scoured your blog, so i missed that post until now)

so perhaps you can understand how from my perspective the draft seems very much to be a product of a group that hasn't been clearly differentiated from the SFPC

Sundari Kraft said...

Thanks for the info on the 5' setback rule only applying to new buildings. I'm going to bring that up with CPD. It may be that we want to modify the language of the draft outline, because I don't really think that a 10' setback for chicken coops is reasonable, especially on 25' lots.

You bring up a valid point -- I can understand why you were confused. I think that it stems from many of us wearing multiple hats. I am the co-chair of the SFPC and also an advocate with Sustainable Food Denver. When I was collaborating with the working group to develop the draft ordinance I was doing so in my role with Sustainable Food Denver (although, of course, I still was/am a member of the SFPC). I was not the only member of the working group that also serves on the SFPC; however, not everyone in that working group is on the SFPC.

And, to be clear, the other organizations I mentioned (Feed Denver, The GrowHaus, etc) were not directly involved in the drafting of the FPA ordinance outline. However, they are supportive of efforts to allow limited numbers of FPAs as a use-by-right, through the City Council ordinance process. The draft outline was created to provide a starting point for the SFPC, and for the process as a whole. Now the SFPC will work proactively with city staff. Whether or not they choose to recommend an ordinance to City Council remains to be seen.

I think the important thing to do from this point forward is to look at the draft outline and work to make it better. This is a process that anyone who is interested in the issue can participate in. I've already received feedback from several different people, which is terrific. I hope to hear more, and I hope that there continues to be public participation on many fronts as the process continues.

garbanzito said...

the way i see it, the 10 foot rule will only rarely be onerous -- even if the abutting property has a house on the property line, the FPA shelter can usually be built farther back on the lot (in my neighborhood that would often be close to a neighbor's garage, but not to a dwelling)

the "rear 50%" rule could be tricky on corner lots, especially if they are 25 feet wide, since two sides of a corner lot are considered to be "front"

one thing i don't see is any mention of the how shelters interface with rules and permitting for accessory structures in general -- there are detailed rules which can apply to things like garden sheds (where and how big they can be), and would seem to apply to chicken coops too; the ordinance probably should say whether FPA shelters are subject to these rules

Sundari Kraft said...

Well, I suppose that's true... 10' away from the neighbor's dwelling doesn't mean you have to have a 10' setback for your coop. We'll see how the 10' rule fares as things move forward, but you raise a good point.

Also a good point about corner lots -- I'm going to bring that question up to CPD.

In terms of how shelters interface with zoning rules pertaining to accessory structures... If the shelter you're using for your FPAs (whether it's a chicken coop or a goat shed) is not permanently affixed to the ground, then it is not considered a "structure" in the eyes of zoning, and is not subject to the zoning rules regarding accessory structures. So, if your animal shelter isn't permanently affixed to the ground, you don't need to get a permit for it or worry about open space rules, etc. However, if your coop or shed IS permanently affixed (i.e. cemented) to the ground, then you need to get a permit and follow all of the zoning rules regarding accessory structures.

This does not represent a change; it is the way zoning currently looks at FPA "shelters" vs. structures. Neither my chicken coop nor my goat shed is permanently affixed to the ground. I have had both the Zoning Administrator and the head of Neighborhood Inspection Services in my backyard, and neither of them had a problem with it. Great question!

Sundari Kraft said...

Just a quick follow-up... I got a response from Community Planning & Development and the City Attorney's Office regarding the questions that were raised regarding the draft outline.

- Regarding the enclosure, and the requirement that it be adequate to prevent predators from gaining entry: They confirmed my understanding -- that the enclosure must be *provided*. However, there is no requirement that the animals spend all of their time in the enclosure.

- Regarding the 10' distance from neighbor's dwelling, and the 5' setback from property line: Again, just confirming what we had discussed. Dwellings built within the last 55 years have had to observe a 5' setback from property lines, but that is not the case with older dwelling. Nonetheless, FPA owners can choose to set their animal shelter farther back on the property to achieve the 10' distance at a diagonal.

-Regarding the question of corner lots and the rear 50%: According to CPD, there are not 2 fronts to a residential zone lot. There is only one - the primary street side. So, the rear 50% of the lot would be the half that is opposite the primary street side, even if it's a corner lot.

Thank you for your questions!

Paul said...

@ Garbanzito - "the FPA shelter can usually be built farther back on the lot"

I think that the 10' rule could be a real problem. The 5' zoning setback applies to the entire length of the lot so moving the shelter back still would put it in the center 5' of a 25' lot--not a reasonable location.

Most city lots are 50' or less so the ideal location will often be up against the 6' privacy fence on the property line.

How does this ordinance compare to James Bertini's (Denver Urban Homesteading) ballot initiative 'Save the Chickens'? Has he been brought in to the discussion to provide input on what he has learned on the topic? If not, why not?

Sundari Kraft said...

@Paul -- I'm not sure that I understand your comment about why the 10' rule would be a problem. The 10' rule in the draft outline is not a setback; it is saying that an FPA shelter must be 10' from a neighbor's dwelling. So, if you were to hold a tape measure to the corner of your neighbor's house and extend it 10' -- either straight out or at an angle -- that's where you could put your shelter.

If your FPA shelter is permanently affixed to the ground (therefore officially becoming a "structure" of its own) then you would need to get a building permit and maintain a 5' setback from your side property line, regardless of how far back you put the shelter. However, if your shelter is not permanently affixed to the ground, as long as you stay 10' from your neighbor's actual dwelling, you can put the shelter wherever you want.

I agree that requiring a shelter be in the center 5' of a 25' lot would be unreasonable, but since your neighbor's dwelling is unlikely to take up the entire back 50% of their lot, there would be a diagonal option available to you. However, I'm more than happy to convey your concerns about this aspect of the draft outline when it comes up for discussion in the Sustainable Food Policy Council. You are also welcome to express your concern about this aspect of it to Community Planning & Development, who are interested in the public's response to this issue, as well as your City Councilperson.

I've written previously about how the proposed ordinance differs from the ballot initiative. Rather than restating all of it, I'll just direct you here: http://heirloomgardens.blogspot.com/2011/01/chickens-chickens-everywhere.html

In terms of inviting community members and activists to give feedback -- The draft outline has been published on my website and has been made available in several other venues, as well. I have been actively encouraging people to comment and share their thoughts. In addition, anyone who wishes to can express their thoughts about the draft outline to their City Councilmembers, Community Planning and Development, the Department of Environmental Health, and to the Sustainable Food Policy Council. And those are just the avenues for feedback available at this stage in the game. As the draft outline proceeds through the city's process toward adoption, my understanding is that there will be additional public forums during which time people can comment. We can't force anyone to give their opinion and enter the discussion, of course, but anyone who wishes to has ample opportunity to share their thoughts.

garbanzito said...

regarding setbacks:

Sundari has clarified some of the setback info, but her CPD source seems to be overgeneralizing; i don't think it's going to be trouble for most people, but this is a case where there needs to be a proper public process to clear things up (and not after the language has already been solidified); i just checked the current code and i see a some examples that may help explain the rule:

1) in the Urban (U) context, lots 40' wide or less may have a 3' setback on one side; on both sides on lots 30' or less (and of course older structures may have been built right on the lot line)

2) some accessory structures can have a zero foot side setback; it looks like this might apply to "permanent" FPA structures on the rear 35% of a lot

3) there are cases where detached residences are on a lot next to something like an apartment building with very little setback; the current code attempts to protect against such juxtapositions, but it's a reality that i've seen

4) going back to my comment about corner lots "having two fronts" -- i had seen this as the effect of some language in the past, but i see that the new zoning code, while it sometimes has different setbacks for the side street versus side interior, does not seem to codify "two fronts"

5) only in some cases can a new home be built right to the rear property line; for detached dwellings in U context, the setback is generally 20' when there is no alley; but it can be less (even zero) in some cases

fyi, the code for U context is linked from this page and the sidebar lists the other contexts

mine is not a professional, detailed analysis of this rule, but as i see it the draft requirement of 10' distance from any dwelling will in most cases allow a lot of "play" for siting a shelter; it doesn't matter what the setback is so much as where the buildings are now, and accessory structures don't count; still, there may be some cases where siting a shelter will be difficult under this rule; avoiding building a "permanent" shelter will simplify things for most people, but these may be permitted on the lot line in some cases

Sundari Kraft said...

Thank you, garbanzito, for your research and your contributions to the discussion. I agree with you (or, at least, what I understand you're saying) that at this point it doesn't appear as though the 10'-from-neighbors'-dwelling rule will pose a severe problem for anyone who wants to keep fowl or dwarf goats in their backyard.

However, we can also look at just scratching the 10' rule altogether. Some cities have (what I consider to be) unreasonable rules about FPA shelter placement -- asking for a 10' (or even 30') setback from property lines, plus all kinds of other burdensome requirements. The 10'-from-neighbors-dwelling rule was an attempt to strike a reasonable compromise between those kinds of unreasonable rules vs. a free-for-all-put-the-coop-under-your-neighbor's-kitchen-window kind of thing. We have to build public support in order to successfully get this ordinance through City Council, and the thought was that the neighborhood organizations would object to a coop free-for-all, but could be appeased by the compromise of the 10' rule.

Sustainable Food Denver will be doing a lot of outreach with neighborhood organizations over the next few weeks, and I'll see what the feeling is about the 10' rule. It may be that shelter placement isn't a sticking point with a lot of people (although my experience tells me the opposite). If the 10' rule turns out to not be something that the public wants, then we should lobby to get it removed from the draft.

The most important thing to me is that people who want to keep FPAs in their backyard aren't "zoned" out through unreasonable regulations around shelter placement. If the guidelines can be easily met within a Denver backyard, then that's terrific. However, if they pose an insurmountable problem to would-be-FPA owners, then that's problematic to me.

Ingrid said...

Thank you to all who are involved in drafting and commenting on this ordinance.

Is FPA waste disposal/storage covered by other zoning code on pet waste cleanup that would apply to FPAs? If not, it may be worthwhile to consider adding it as a restriction. I am not advocating more restrictions, but dealing with the waste disposal issue upfront may address neighbor concerns about waste smells, and may help the ordinance pass.

Sundari Kraft said...

Thank you for your feedback, Ingrid! I agree that waste disposal is an important issue, and addressing it is helpful when talking about the new ordinance with community members.

Luckily, our current animal code already contains language about the unlawful accumulation of animal manure, so we didn't need to add anything to the draft outline. Plus, there are additional odor and nuisance guidelines in the animal code, which would also come into play if there was a problem with manure. Basically, people can not allow manure to accumulate so that it creates an odor, and they need to dispose of it (either by composting, digging into the garden, or throwing it away) in a way that also does not create an odor or nuisance.