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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Backyard Chickens Bring Up Issues in Fort Thomas

The Dunbar family is asking for a change to the chicken ordinance to accommodate corner lots. These chickens got loose on S. Fort Thomas Avenue. Picture: Kelly Berry Perry. 

by Robin Gee

Waking up to "cuckadoodledo" at six in the morning was not part of the plan when Bryan and Jordan Dunbar and their five children started raising chickens in their back yard.

The Dunbars, who live on Ohio Avenue, addressed City Council at its August meeting to ask for some help from the city regarding the current backyard chicken ordinance.

The Dunbar children received eight little chicks for Easter, and the family presumed they were all female. Yet very soon, the chickens started to grow and quickly hit the chicken version of puberty.

"At first it was hard to figure out just who was making the noise. As the days progressed we heard more crowing and were able to identify two roosters. We knew the rules, we couldn’t have them, so we found them a place on the west side and removed them immediately," said Jordan Dunbar.

The Dunbars speaking to Fort Thomas City Council. FTM file. 

Learning from mistakes

The couple admitted they are new to the chicken-raising game and have made some mistakes. They took care of the rooster problem quickly but in the process discovered they were not in complete compliance with the city’s backyard chicken ordinance. They appeared at the council meeting to ask for some leniency.

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The city ordinance requires chicken coops to be at least 50 feet from other residents' houses. The Dunbars’ coop is not, but they say part of the problem lies in the set up of their property.

"We feel our situation is unique, because we are on a corner lot. Our backyard is another neighbor’s side yard. If we lived a couple of houses down, our coop wouldn’t be an issue at all because all those houses back up to another back yard or the woods," said Dunbar.

Moving the coop would be difficult because it has been built as a permanent structure with piers buried in poured concrete, a measure the family took to protect the birds from predators.

Looking for solutions

The Dunbars asked for a change in the ordinance for corner lots or an exception for their coop in light of the situation. They brought with them views of the property and several letters of support from neighbors.

"We understand the city of Fort Thomas happily supports chickens, and we know that’s not the issue at hand but we feel it’s important to point out the support we do have of our neighbors," said Dunbar.

Laura Timbers, who lives nearby on Ridgeway Avenue, said, "I’ve never smelled the chickens, and you don’t really notice they are there. It is well maintained. This has been a great learning experience, not just for the [Dunbar] children but for all the children in the neighborhood."

One neighbor on Ridgeway Ct., who was barely able to see over the podium, spoke in support of the Dunbar's chickens. "Getting eggs from these chickens are much healthier than in the store," he said. FTM file. 
Not all neighbors were in total support. Laurie Secaur, also of Ridgeway Avenue, had called the city with concerns, but said she was happy to learn the rooster situation had been cleared up.

"I’m sure something can be worked out so the coop can stay, but I am concerned that they [the chickens] are contained in the yard because they’ve gotten out and into my yard," she said.

Ron Dill explained that a city ordinance would require modification by city council. The next step would be a review and discussion at a meeting of the Law, Labor and License Committee. The committee would make any further recommendations to council.

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All concerned were invited to attend and to check with the city for the next scheduled meeting.


  1. It's a beautiful chicken coop. Let the chickens stay! 🐥

  2. I wish Bellevue Would allow chickens. I was told they never will. I don't see why they wouldn't if Ft. Thomas allows them...