A chicken coop full of hens. A barnyard animal petting zoo. A horse stable in the neighbor’s backyard.
All scenarios are allowed in Cody’s city limits. And that may not change, although Cody officials are looking to add some parameters for people who wish to keep farm animals in town, especially in certain areas.
With exceptions for such pets as parakeets, turtles, chameleons, hamsters and gerbils, Cody residents may not keep wild or exotic animals within city limits except with special permission from the chief of police.
But otherwise, it’s legal to keep large livestock in town and, other than dealing with such issues as noise and unsanitary conditions, there’s no restriction on how many.
“The City of Cody is unique in that it doesn’t have any regulations at all,” city attorney Scott Kolpitcke said while discussing Cody’s animal ordinance at a recent council work session.
Most other Wyoming communities have some regulations that limit the number of animals or type of animal, he said, explaining the situation afterward.
Because concerns arise from time to time, Kolpitcke said members of the council asked him to create a new law that would restrict people from having large animals in residential areas.
His initial draft ordinance would prohibit people living in the Residential-1 zone from keeping livestock defined as cattle, horses, pigs, mules, donkeys, sheep, etc.
“This still gives residences a lot of latitude,” Kolpitcke told councilors. “If they’re not in the R-1 [zone] the question is lot size.”
He suggested requiring a 3/4 acre lot minimum and at least a 100-foot distance from a residence.
Council members addressed a few technicalities:
• Would the grandfather clause apply to animals already in town? When would it no longer apply?
• Why the 100-foot distance? And would that apply to the animal owner’s house as well as a neighbor’s?
• If someone has animals and a neighbor puts up a shed close by, how would the city address that situation?
Favoring more restrictions, council member Karen Ballinger argued against allowing livestock anywhere in Cody.
“It’s fun to see animals on a ranch,” she said. “But to go into town and have that OK – that’s wrong to me.”
For horse manure to go into a city dumpster is “not right,” she added.
Councilman Jerry Fritz encouraged adding proper fencing as a requirement.
“They would have an obligation to fence in,” Kolpitcke said.
“No electric fence, though,” Fritz said.
The attorney ended discussion by saying he would incorporate changes and have the proposed law ready for first reading when the council meets in regular session July 10. It will take three readings to pass the ordinance into law. Amendments are possible throughout the process.
“Cody is unique because there are a large number of fairly large properties where people keep horses and it does seem to work,” Kolpitcke said later.
The goal is to “strike a balance between giving people the right to do whatever they want with their property and also protect the rights of those around them,” he said.