By Tia Lynn Lecorchick staff writer

Chuck Jarrell and Tara Cooner from the Morgan County Planning Department appeared before the Rutledge City Council on May 19 to recommend several changes to city ordinances. The proposed changes are in effort of aligning Rutledge’s ordinances with county and state ordinances. Changes to livestock ordinances and the adoption of a lawn care ordinance, that would mandate lawn heights cannot exceed 12 inches, were debated at Monday night’s meeting. Jarrell and Cooner noted that many surrounding county ordinances mandate a two-acre minimum to have livestock on a property and recommended Rutledge do the same. Chad Cook, a city council member, objected to the proposed changes to the livestock ordinances on account of Rutledge residents with lot sizes smaller than two acres owning chickens and roosters, including himself. “The government shouldn’t be restrictive of what other people want just because someone else doesn’t want it,” said Cook.

“I don’t want the city telling me or anyone what they can and cannot do on our own properties,” said Cook. Brenda Thompson noted that the city, in the past, has dealt with some complaints concerning non-domestic animals, such as goats and chickens. Jarrell emphasized that the decision to require a certain amount of acreage is completely up to the council. “It is up to you whether to change it or eliminate it,” said Jarrell.

Cooner suggested the council set an acreage limit for livestock animals, except for chickens, as long as they are confined. Cooner said the council should, instead, limit the number of chickens a property owner can have based on how much land they have as opposed to mandating a property owner must have at least two acres in order to have any chickens. “I think that is a good compromise,” said Cooner. Jarrell and Cooner will revise their recommendations and reword the language in the ordinances and present it again to the council at their next meeting.