RICE -- Rice residents who want to raise chickens in their backyards are now one step closer after last (Monday) night's Planning Commission Meeting.

During the meeting the board approved amending the ordinance to allow chickens in residential neighborhoods as long as the homeowner has a permit.

Under the previous ordinance only properties zoned as rural residential or agricultural could keep chickens.

City Clerk Stephanie Roggenbuck says the amended ordinance would allow property owners within the city to have up to four chickens in the backyard, housed in a chicken coop, at least twenty-five feet from the home from sunset to sunrise, and in a fenced in area at least six feet high.

All permits would need to be renewed every year.

Roggenbuck says the council still needs to look at the merging of their civil and criminal ordinances before beginning to look at amending the animal ordinance.

That topic will be an action item at their March 20th council meeting.