Cailey Moore\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nA revision to Marlinton's Animal and Fowl Ordinance could soon take effect and allow residents to keep up to five egg-laying hens on their property.\r\n\r\nCouncil member Mark Strauss took the floor at last Tuesday's Marlinton Town Council meeting to present a revision to Marlinton's current animal ordinance.\r\n\r\nStrauss' revision would allow residents to own a maximum of five, egg-laying hens and permit them to be kept on a single-family housing lot, as long as a fenced coop that allots a minimum of two square feet per hen is kept and maintained.\r\n\r\nRoosters, fighting birds, breeding chickens, ducks or other fowl will not be permitted on any property, nor will apartments or multi-family housing units be allowed to have chickens on the premise.\r\n\r\nAn annual permit, which can be obtained for $1, is required, regardless of the number of permitted chickens a person may have.\r\n\r\nStrauss' revision met with mixed reactions from both council and the public.\r\n\r\n\u201cI have a major problem with this proposal,\u201d council member Norris Long said. \u201cI don't want a bunch of chickens beside my house making noises and messes, and the way your number one is written 'and those animals kept for agricultural purposes only' opens the doors for pigs and cows.\u201d\r\n\r\nWhen asked why Strauss brought up the revision, he said that he wished to allow egg-laying chickens in the town limits for food for any resident.\r\n\r\n\u201cI'm all for chickens and eggs,\u201d remarked recorder B.J. Gudmundsson, \u201cbut it could turn into a farm in a hurry. My granddad had a farm, and I know what chickens do and how dirty they are. People, in a lot of these houses, don't even clean up after their own human mess. I don't see them cleaning up after chicken mess, and who's going to enforce it? It seems to me that we have a lot of ordinances in town that we're having difficulty enforcing now. There are violations all over town.\u201d\r\n\r\nStrauss answered Gudmundsson's concerns with a reference to Section 3-112 of the Article III Animal and Fowl Ordinance.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt says that 'keeping any animal or fowl...clean and sanitary conditions at all times, free of any unwholesome or offensive substance, liquid or odor, so as to not constitute, in the opinion of personnel, a nuisance,'\u201d he quoted. \u201cWe do have an ordinance already in effect that, as B.J. said, we're not enforcing. We could enforce that.\r\n\r\n\u201cThere is a statewide wave coming through, and it's called Pets with a Purpose. It's allowing animals, such as egg-laying chickens, to be allowed, and there are ordinances \u00ad\u2013 working on, if not already in place \u2013 in Beckley, Bluefield and Charleston, also in Roanoke, Virginia, allowing chickens in residential areas. It doesn't allow any other animals in the residential area \u2013 which the beginning part of this section does say 'any person to own or keep any agricultural animal or fowl within the corporal limits.' Other than chickens is what I was stating. It still states that you can't have any other animals in town.\u201d\r\n\r\nMayor Sam Felton reined in the discussion and called for a vote. Council members voted 4-3 in favor of the revision, and the revised ordinance passed its first of two required readings.\r\n\r\n\u201cAll residents \u2013 for pros and cons, for or against \u2013 can please contact any council person to discuss this,\u201d Strauss urged. \u201cThe public's input is always important, and we serve at the public's request.\u201d\r\n<p style="text-align: center"><em>Specialized Deer Hunt <\/em><\/p>\r\nChickens were not the only animal to cross the council's table.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt was brought to my attention \u2013 the special deer hunt that's been talked about for some time,\u201d Felton said. \u201cSome want it, some don't. I have to tell you that I have a lot of mixed feelings about it myself. I always envision a worse case scenario of a deer coming from Lakeview with an arrow inside it and deciding to die down here under the traffic lights someplace, but nevertheless, I wanted to at least put it on the agenda to let folks know that we are thinking about it and considering it.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe specialized deer hunt was first brought to the table during Joe Smith's administration.\r\n\r\nConcerned with the exceedingly abundant population of deer throughout the county, the council sought advice from a DNR officer in French Creek.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe DNR gentleman came and met with us twice,\u201d Smith said. \u201cIt is a successful program across the state.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cWe sought input from other areas putting this hunt into effect due to diseases and inbreeding amongst the deer,\u201d added former council member Loretta Malcolm.\r\n\r\nShould the council vote it into action, the hunt will come with a strict set of guidelines.\r\n\r\n\u201cFor those who are not aware, the deer hunt is only open to bow hunting,\u201d Long explained. \u201cThe dates will be prior to regular deer season, run up to the end of December and the deer taken will not count toward a hunter's seasonal game.\u201d\r\n\r\n\u201cOnce you have your designated areas that you're going to allow hunting in, the DNR will tell you how many hunters you can have,\u201d Smith added. \u201cIt can be as few as five, or it can be more than that. The hunters also have to be able to shoot downwards, which almost means they have to be in a tree stand or on something up higher.\u201d\r\n\r\nThere will be no hunting permitted within residential limits, and private property owners must give permission for a hunt to occur on their land. Written permission must also be obtained from the council.\r\n\r\nThe number of deer a hunter can take will also be determined by the council, as well as the fee for hunting.\r\n\r\n\u201cI think we had a small fee \u2013 $5 or something like that,\u201d explained Long, \u201cand we had up to three does, but after three, you could take a buck.\u201d\r\n\r\nDespite all that was discussed, the hunt was tabled until a later date.\r\n\r\nIn other news:\r\n<ul>\r\n\t<li>The council heard a presentation from Pocahontas County Prevention Specialist and Coordinator Cheryl Jonese on the prevention efforts being introduced within the schools and throughout the county.<\/li>\r\n\t<li>The council adopted the Town Evaluation and Transition Plan and Grievance Procedure as presented by Region IV.<\/li>\r\n\t<li>Vacant Lot Committee member Joe Smith appeared before the council with an update concerning the vacant lot next to the Opera House. The work-in-progress proposal will allow for 30 parking spaces and for Pioneer Days vendors to be moved south of Main Street.<\/li>\r\n\t<li>This year's Halloween and Trick-or-Treat event will take place on Saturday, October 31, from 5-7 p.m.<\/li>\r\n\t<li>A transfer of current budgeted funding to the Fire Department was approved by the council.<\/li>\r\n\t<li>The council made a motion to move forward with preparations for an auction and selling of scrap materials.<\/li>\r\n\t<li>The council appointed James R. Mitchem as the new Water Plant Operator for a probationary period of 90 days.<\/li>\r\n<\/ul>\r\nThe next regular Marlinton Town Council meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 5, at 7:00 p.m.