BONNERS FERRY — The trend toward urban homesteads has been gradually growing, as people are looking to grow or raise more of their own food, even those who live within city limits. The City of Bonners Ferry Planning and Zoning Commission is currently reviewing the ordinance and seeking input from residents on the acceptance of livestock inside City limits.
The city is looking for information from the public through an easily accessible online public survey. For those who do not have access to the internet, the survey is also available to be picked up at City Hall during business hours. They can fill out the survey and bring it back, and the staff will enter the survey answers submitted into the database for analyzing by the Commission.
The current law provides for livestock only in the Residential B zone and is limited based on lot size and number of animal units. For properties of ½ acre or more, there is one unit of animals per ½ acre (21,780 square feet). An animal unit is either one cow, one horse, three sheep, four goats, or 25 poultry.
“The city’s zoning currently prevents livestock in any other district than Residential B,” said City of Bonners Ferry City Planner Lisa Ailport. “We have observed livestock in many of our other districts throughout the city. Since there seems to a number of properties with some form of livestock on their property, the city staff and Planning and Zoning Commission wanted to determine the appropriateness of livestock in all zones, rather than enforcing a code that may not reflect the sentiment of the community.”
Ailport explains that each community seems to either accept or reject the keeping of livestock within their city in different ways. Chickens have drawn some attention from the municipal communities over the past few years. Some residents have been petitioning their jurisdictions to consider allowing them for pets and also to aid in local food production.
“As with any decision, there are positives and negatives that accompany it,” said Ailport. “Livestock, if managed appropriately, can provide some very valuable returns, such as keeping bugs and mosquitoes in check during summer months, pollinating plants and flowers, eating and removing weeds on property, among other benefits.”
Ailport cautions that poorly managed livestock situations can drastically change a neighborhood’s character. Poor husbandry skills, unsanitary living conditions, unmanaged waste, noise pollution, dust and smells, or sick or dying animals can all cause problems in a neighborhood community.
Another subject that the city is hoping to learn from the community is in regard to other animals that are not considered or provided for in the code, such as rabbits, llamas, alpacas, or beehives.
“These are all question that need community input and the more input we get, the more well-rounded any future ordinance amendment will be to representing the current community’s vision on this matter,” said Ailport.
“The Planning and Zoning Commission and staff hope to gain an understanding of the pulse of the community on this issue,” Ailport explained. “Understanding how residents feel about these types of animals is critical to writing or amending any ordinance that geared for Bonners Ferry residents.”
The City Planning and Zoning Commission will analyze the results of the survey and determine if a modification of the current ordinance is warranted. At that time, if more information is needed, a community workshop and/or committee may be conducted to work through solutions and recommendations to the Commission.
The Planning and Zoning Commission will meet next for their regularly scheduled monthly meeting at 5 p.m. on April 19, at City Hall. The agenda is likely to include the reviewing of the responses to the survey and discuss the next steps for moving forward with any modifications to Title 11.
“The public is invited and encouraged to attend and provide comments to the Commission at that time,” said Ailport. “Written comments can be submitted to the city, too; just drop them by the city hall during business hours.”
The public is encouraged to fill out the survey that can be found on the city of Bonners Ferry website. All opinions, whether they are for or against any changes, are welcome. The survey has detailed questions, helping to fine tune the exact needs and wants of the community.
“Adopting another jurisdictions ordinance language may not address all the concerns or opportunities, but stepping back and listening to the community will hopefully help to develop a deeper and more meaningful code,” said Ailport.
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Survey: bonnersferry.id.gov and click on “Livestock Survey”