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Afton Planning Commission briefs from June 3

Afton Planning Commission approves chicken ordinance amendments

Afton's chicken ordinance could be receiving some tweaks.

Afton Planning Commission voted during its June 3 meeting to recommend approval of three amendments to the city's ordinance regulating the keeping of chickens on parcels with less than five acres.

Commissioner Kris Kopitzke, serving as chairman during last week's meeting, cast the only "no" vote following a public hearing on the amendments.

"It's just little tweakings of the ordinance," he said. "On principle, I don't like to see us doing this constantly. Just leave well enough alone."

The amendments, proposed by Afton CIty Council Member Bill Palmquist, lower the lifetime permit fee from $50 to $25 and increase the threshold from "more than three chickens" to "more than five chickens" for the requirement of a 25 foot setback for a chicken coop and run.

Palmquist has said previously that he wanted to have the fee lowered to address 4-H students who only have a couple chickens.

An additional amendment was proposed by City Administrator Ron Moorse to correct inconsistencies within the ordinance.

City Council will review the three amendments to the chicken ordinance at its June meeting.

Easements remain at issue

Afton Planning Commission continued its discussion of how to regulate, and encourage, conservation easements within the city during its June 3 meeting.

Planning Commission began discussing the topic at its May meeting after City Council directed the topic be discussed because the city is interested in preserving open space and controlling its density.

A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a land trust or government agency that permanently limits uses of the land in order to protect its conservation values, such as open space, habitat, vegetation and scenic views.

Currently Afton has one major conservation easement located at the Cedar Bluff Homestead, which is a clustered housing development.

During last week's meeting, Planning Commission looked at the city's Comprehensive Plan in order to identify what values the city is interested in preserving and protecting.

Planning Commission decided to hold off on having an in-depth discussion until its July meeting since it would like to have a discussion with the executive director of Belwin Conservancy, which has many conservation easements.

"I'm all for listening to someone who has been administering conservation easements," Commissioner Dick Bend said.

Planning Commission also asked that the city's Parks Committee attend next month's meeting in order to discuss the city's Park Plan and identify the areas where conservations easements would be desired.

"The parks plan needs to be driving whatever we do," said Commissioner Kris Koptizke, who served as chair during last week's meeting.

-Amber Kispert-Smith