OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — A new pilot program will soon make it easier for people in Overland Park to raise backyard chickens. 

On Monday, the Overland Park City Council approved an ordinance to create a pilot program for keeping chickens inside city limits.  

Colin Victory, with the city planning department, said current city code allows chickens by right on properties larger than 3 acres. A special use permit is required for the keeping of chickens on properties that are less than 3 acres.

“We were having several applicants that were going through a public hearing process, neighborhood notification, planning commission, city council; roughly a three month process only to eventually be denied,” Victory said. 

The 2-year pilot program would allow residents to keep hens with a special chicken permit on single- and two-family residential properties larger than .25 acres.

During the two-year pilot, city staff would gather data on the number of applicants, types of properties, nature and volume of complaints and resident feedback. 

Staff would provide the council with a summary of the pilot in 18-20 months. After review, it will be up to the city council to decide if the pilot should continue or the city should return to requiring special use permits. 

Residents with big enough properties can own up to 12 chickens. No roosters are permitted on properties less than 3 acres. Under the pilot program, Homeowner Associations (HOA) will still have the power to restrict the keeping of chickens in specific neighborhoods. 

“I think we have a process in place here that will be fairer for residents than the special use permit that was so unpredictable. It includes safeguards that are going to protect animal welfare, protect the neighbors, protect health and safety,” Councilmember Melissa Cheatham said. 

The council voted 10-1 to approve the pilot program, with only Councilmember Paul Lyons voting against the program. 

Lyons said he feels once residents start investing in chickens, coops and other materials to care for the animals during the pilot period, it could be difficult for the city to deny chicken permits going forward.

“I just don’t believe raising farm animals in a densely populated urban setting is appropriate,” Lyons said. 

Residents will be able to apply for a one-year license beginning on March 1. Victory said application review process would be handled by the planning department and would require on-site inspections by animal control. 

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