The City of Nebraska City will be changing the city’s ordinance on raising backyard chickens.
Council members voted Monday night to have City Attorney David Partsch draft a revised ordinance that will be discussed at an upcoming council meeting.
Before deciding to revise the ordinance, the council heard a presentation from Tiger Lily Weaver, a 10-year-old student from Hayward Elementary’s High Ability Learners program.
Weaver decided to research backyard chickens for her Genius Hour project, which allows students to explore their passions.
Weaver told the council she decided to research backyard chickens because she loves animals and is interested in sustainable living.
The first step of her research involved researching city laws and ordinances relating to the keeping of chickens in Nebraska City.
According to Weaver, the current city ordinance prevents most residents from keeping backyard chickens.
Weaver suggested that the revised Nebraska City ordinance might resemble a current ordinance in Ashland.
She noted that Milford, Grand Island, Lincoln and Omaha all have backyard chicken ordinances in place.
Partsch said interest in keeping backyard chickens in Omaha is apparently growing as the city currently has 300 backyard chicken permits on file.
Weaver cited three potential problems with keeping backyard chickens, namely noise, smell and loose chickens.
Weaver proposed that the revised ordinance allow for only hens to be kept to alleviate the noise issue.
She said adding a requirement to keep the chicken environments clean would eliminate concerns about the smell.
Finally, Weaver added  that the current ordinance requirement that states chickens must not be allowed to run free should resolve any loose chicken problems before they start.
Weaver also cited some benefits to backyard chicken keeping, including the ability to have fresh eggs regularly, free fertilizer and pest control, a way to control food waste by feeding table scraps to the chickens, and a step toward self-sustainability for in-town families.
In other matters, the council
Approved employee health benefits with a 3.5 percent rate increase from United Health Care;
Approved amendments to the City of Nebraska City budget policy to set insurance monies aside for the following year to cover possible rate increases;
Approved the bid of $385,812 from Bryant Air Conditioning and Heating Co. for the Morton-James Public Library heating, ventilation and air conditioning project;
Agreed to vacate and sell street right-of-way on 10th Corso and 12th through 14th streets for $500 an stipulated that the land be surveyed and bundled to combine the parcels into two parcels on either side of the railroad tracks. The City Attorney also was directed to draft an ordinance to sell the property;
Accepted a counter offer of $3,000 to purchase a city-owned lot at 301 Central Avenue;
Approved an agreement between CHI Health St. Mary's and Nebraska City Fire and Rescue for EMS personnel to train at the hospital;
Reappointed Evan Wickersham of JEO Consulting Group as the street superintendent;
Decided to continue to use JEO Consulting Group as the city's primary City Engineer; and
Approved the agreement to allow utility installation and connection to city utilities from the Otoe County right-of-way by the ArborLinks golf course.
The next regular Nebraska City City Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 3, in the Bill Davis Room of City Hall, 1409 Central Ave.