Arapahoe County residents want the option to raise backyard chickens and bees, so they’re reaching out to officials regarding a change in legislation.
In response, officials are abuzz. They’ve released an unofficial, online survey asking residents to weigh in on the subject. The short, nine-question survey closes March 1.
The requests are mostly from residents who live in pockets of suburban, unincorporated zones west of E-470 where backyard chickens and bees are not presently allowed, said communications director Andrea Rasizer. Currently, all cities in Arapahoe County permit residents to keep the animals. They’re also allowed in other parts of the county’s unincorporated territory, which falls under agricultural status. She described how in some non-agricultural neighborhoods, it’s legal for residents on one side of the street to keep the animals, but not on the other side because it’s outside city limits.
“It seems to me there’s an equal number of people for and against the change,” said Jeff Baker, District 3 county commissioner. Baker described District 3 as the “largest and most rural district” in Arapahoe County.
“Personally, I’d lean toward the opponent side,” Baker said. “The majority of my constituents already live in rural areas — on 1 or 2 acres — where they can already have bees and chickens. But I have an open mind, and I will listen to what my constituents want. If the majority of my constituents are for it, I will uphold their decision and vote accordingly.”
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Baker said his concerns lie with the residents’ ability to maintain a comfortable environment for neighbors who may not want chickens or bees close to their homes.
“It comes down to the responsibility of the citizens who want this,” Baker said. “Just like owners with other pets, like dogs, it comes down to keeping the area clean and being aware of how your pets affect your neighbors. And realizing it’s their right to have quiet in their own yards.”
So when can residents expect a decision on the matter?
“Staff is working on the draft code amendment based on comments received from this feedback and hopes to have it out for review by spring,” Rasizer said.
For more information or to fill out the survey, visit bit.ly/beeschickens, or call the Arapahoe County Planning and Zoning Division at 720-874-6711.