December 18, 2014 Vol. 14 No. 4
New law allows local farming practices
Written by Jeanne Davant   

Breakfast With Santa

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This year's Breakfast With Santa gathering at Memorial Hall in Manitou Springs, sponsored by the Manitou Springs Kiwanis Club, was attended by hundreds of people who turned out to spend time with Santa Claus and to enjoy a breakfast prepared by Kiwanis members and served by volunteers from Manitou Springs High School and Boy Scout Troop 18 of Manitou Springs.

Top, two-year-old Levi Koch and his grandparents, Edd and Penny Bever, enjoy a visit from Santa during last Saturday's Breakfast With Santa.

Middle, Enjoying the Breakfast with Santa gathering at Memorial Hall last Saturday were Deborah Setter (right), her mother Teresa Valier, and daughters Laine, 4, (left) and Isidonia, 7.

Bottom, Santa Claus poses for a photo with 4-year-old Isaac Peck of Woodland Park during last Saturday's Breakfast With Santa at Memorial Hall.

Photos by Larry Ferguson

A new ordinance passed Tuesday by the Manitou Springs City Council would allow residents to keep bees, chickens and turkeys, and—under strictly defined circumstances—goats on their property.

The ordinance also would allow agricultural operations, including community gardens, community-supported agriculture (CSA) farms smaller than 2 acres, farmers markets and produce stands, to be conducted within the city without the owners having to go through the conditional use process.

Crop production and “you-pick” farms also would be permitted but would require a conditional use permit approved by City Council. All farms would have to submit a site plan to the Planning Department.

The ordinance was developed in response to input from interested citizens and is a starting point to promote access to local, healthy food, Planning Director Wade Burkholder said. It was modeled on a similar program in Arvada.

The six-page ordinance contains numerous restrictions on agricultural activities. For example, beekeepers would be required to locate hive boxes at least 25 feet away from neighbors’ property lines, and all farming activities would have to be conducted during daylight hours.

The ordinance makes it unlawful to keep livestock within the city, except that “work goats” could be housed for 72 hours at a time on a CSA or crop production farm. Working goats often are employed to eat weeds and provide fertilizer for farmland.

In general, though, the ordinance would expand urban homesteading practices in the city beyond what is currently permitted, and several speakers called for even more encouragement of sustainable food production.

Resident Nancy Fortuin said she keeps chickens and has ordered and paid for one colony of bees. Although she could meet the 25-foot requirement, she said her property is less than ¼ acre, the smallest size lot on which the ordinance would allow beekeeping.

“I would take issue with the ¼ acre and make it something everybody can participate in,” gardener and activist Becky Elder said.

“I’m grateful we’re even talking about this,” said Agricultural arts teacher Jeremy Tackett, who wants to keep goats at 5 Keithley Road.

Resident Neal Yowell liked that idea.

“I would welcome a couple of Jeremy’s goats to come eat the weeds in my drainage ditch,” Yowell said.

Doug Edmondson, who said he was representing his mother as landowner of the Keithley estate, also supported urban farming.

“We’ve worked for a lot of years to keep the property in one piece,” Edmondson said. “I would rather see this become the foundation for a new land use system and be under the plow instead of developers.”

Council members were concerned about the impacts of agricultural activities on neighborhoods.

The Keithley properties “aren’t the ones I’m worried about,” Mayor Marc Snyder said. “The ones I’m worried about are where the houses are right on top of each other.”

Snyder said he would reinstate a provision of the code that was deleted in the new ordinance: a requirement that CSA deliveries and distribution be restricted to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Council unanimously passed the ordinance on first reading, including the CSA time limits.

Council postponed a second reading of the ordinance to Jan. 20 to allow Burkholder to develop further recommendations and give citizens a chance to review it. Further comments from residents will be heard during a public hearing on the ordinance on that date.

A full version of the ordinance can be found in the Dec. 16 Council packet on the city’s Web site,