Council hears argument for chickens
September 19, 2019
During their Tuesday evening meeting, the Thermopolis Town Council heard from Jeremiah Balius, who operates Mr. B’s Childcare and was in favor of allowing people to have chickens in town.
The debate of whether to allow chickens is one that has come up at several meetings, which Balius is aware of, but wanted to come to a compromise to allow 4-H kids to be able to participate. He noted he would like to have chickens but since he has a business out of his house he doesn’t want to have to move out of town.
Balius said he lived in Riverton for over five years, and the town initially didn’t allow chickens but were able to compromise and allow them under certain conditions such as not having roosters and limiting the number of chickens a person is allowed.
He’s aware there is concern about enforcement, but pointed out there is going to be enforcement either way — either people will have chickens illegally or within the confines of what council would decide.
Another concern is neglect of the animals, and Balius suggesting having a paid permit for the animals, as people are more likely to take better care of the animals if they have to pay to have them.
Mayor Mike Chimenti questioned what could be done with the waste, and Balius speculated most people would put in the trash. Director of Public Works Ernie Slagle cautioned that enough chicken waste could make it so the dumpsters couldn’t be picked up by trucks. Slagle also noted people complain about the ammonia smell.
Other ideas Balius presented is to have an additional charge for waste disposal or having separate bins for the animal waste. Slagle said the resources aren’t there for the extra bins.
Chimenti was also curious how communities that allowed chickens dealt with the nuisances created by them, such as skunks, raccoons, snakes and feral cats. Balius said he doesn’t expect so many people to have chickens that they would cause such issues, and there are already turkeys in town that could cause the same. Chimenti pointed out that the turkeys fall under the Game and Fish jurisdiction, where chickens would be a town problem.
Chimenti said questions regarding how other communities handle the created nuisances and waste management would need to be answered before discussion could continue.
Balius said the argument of chickens causing other nuisance animals to come is a good one, but wanted some evidence supporting it. Chimenti explained one of the processes for getting rid of raccoons and skunks in the past has been to put strychnine in eggs, and it stood to reason that the animals were eating the eggs and dying on the spot.
Police Chief Julie Mathews also raised the concern that there really is no place to impound the chickens while searching for the owners. Council member Bill Malloy noted there have been communities that allowed chickens but have since disallowed them because they have caused issues.
In action, council approved the third and final reading for Ordinance 840, Section 1, concerning adopted codes, which takes effect Oct. 1.
Under the new ordinance, the town will adopt the International Building Code, International Residential Code, International Existing Building Code, International Fire Code, International Property Management Code, International Mechanical Code, International Swimming Pool and Spa Code, International Plumbing Code, International Fuel Gas Code, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 58 Fuel Gas Code and the NFPA 54 National Fuel Gas Code. Additionally, the ordinance establishes related fees.
Reese and Ray's liquor
Also during the meeting, following a brief hearing council approved a liquor license transfer to Eaglecav for Reese and Ray’s IGA. During the hearing, Myron Kruckenberg, the general manager for Eaglecav said it’s been a hectic month with the acquiring of Reese and Ray stores in Thermopolis, Worland, Buffalo and Hardin, Mont.
“I just want to say, we’ve had a lot of people here working on the store,” Kruckenberg said. “We did live in Gillette as a family in the late 90’s and early 2000’s so we knew Wyoming, but never so much as we know Thermopolis now. It’s a wonderful town and there’s a lot of great people here, so we’re just happy to be here.”
Store to remain open
With recent news of the Reese and Ray’s in Worland closing — except for the liquor store — quickly after the acquisition, following the meeting Kruckenberg noted the store in Thermopolis would remain fully open with its current staff and hours, and continue to operate as a Reese and Ray’s IGA, just under different ownership.
“We’re new into this,” he said. “We’re going to run the store, we have a lot of great employees and we’re just happy to be here in town.”
As for the closing of the Worland store, Kruckenberg said it was a business decision based on the store being generally unkempt and the infrastructure being in bad shape.
Town Engineer Anthony Barnett reported on town projects, noting the chip sealing was completed Tuesday except for the final sweeping. The Springview sewer project is also underway, and Barnett said the highway crossing was planned for Thursday but could be pushed back due to the forecasted storm.
Materials have been dropped off for the new roof on the old fire hall, and that project is expected to take eight days. Barnett has met with Mayor’s Assistant Fred Crosby on the raw water bore for the golf course, and advertisement for bids will be coming in the next couple weeks. He hopes to have bid documents ready for council by their Oct. 15 meeting.