More residents will be able to join the backyard chicken movement after the Ashland City Council reduced buffer-zone rules that govern how far chickens must be kept from neighboring homes.

More residents will be able to join the backyard chicken movement after the Ashland City Council reduced buffer-zone rules that govern how far chickens must be kept from neighboring homes.

Councilors voted on Tuesday night to cut a 75-foot buffer requirement down to 20 feet.

Chickens and coops can be kept within 20 feet of neighboring homes as long as they are also at least 10 feet away from the property line.

City Councilor Greg Lemhouse said the 20-foot buffer zone rule and 10-foot property line requirement alleviated his concerns about people raising chickens too close to their neighbors.

"This allows for some flexibility for people to do urban farming," he said.

Lemhouse apologized for the fact that the process to relax chicken regulations in Ashland has taken so long.

City Councilors have been dealing with chicken regulations since early spring as they struggled to balance neighbors' rights with the desires of many residents to raise chickens.

On Tuesday night, Lemhouse asked city staff members to have the Ashland Planning Commission look at the issue of other farm animals in town to see if more regulations should be relaxed.

The Planning Commission could then make recommendations to the Council about possible changes.

Some residents have proposing loosening Ashland regulations on the keeping of a range of creatures, from goats to bees.

— Vickie Aldous