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Archive for Thursday, May 3, 2012

Town Talk: City says chick sale at Orscheln afoul of code; a twist on sidewalk dining; an iconic trash Dumpster; weekly land transfers and an election filing

May 3, 2012

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News and notes from around town:

• Let no one ever say that Lawrence doesn’t love its chickens.

If you remember a couple months ago, Lawrence gained widespread publicity when a local artist wanted to conduct a public slaughtering of chickens as part of an art exhibition. The city attorney’s office, however, stepped in and cited a city law that prohibited the slaughtering. Fans of chickens (not necessarily fans of fried chicken) rejoiced.

Now, chicken fans have another victory to crow about. I recently got confirmation that Orscheln Farm and Home ended its annual Chick Days Sale after city officials notified the store that it wasn’t meeting the city’s codes for housing chickens.

If you are not familiar with Chick Days … well, then you must still be falling for that scam of buying your eggs at the grocery store. Chick Days is a longtime event — I’m confident it has been around more than a decade — where Orscheln sells baby chickens (I think ducks, too) to area farmers and other poultry producers. The chicks are housed inside coops inside the store. The sale only features chicks. Nothing close to a full-grown chicken is sold.

But perhaps you remember several years ago the city passed a set of regulations governing how chickens must be housed in the city. The regulations came about after several folks expressed interest in raising chickens in their backyards.

I’m assuming it’s those regulations that Orscheln ran afoul of. Assistant City Attorney Chad Sublet and I have been playing phone tag on the subject for the last couple of days, so I haven’t had a chance to ask him specifics about what issues the city found at Orscheln. But Sublet in a voice mail did confirm the city notified the store it was in violation of the city’s codes.

The city’s code does require that a coop have at least 10 square feet per chicken or duck, if the birds do not have an outdoor run. I’ve been to Orscheln several times (last purchase rubber boots and a pig whip. And no, I don’t own a pig.) I would estimate there are at least a couple hundred chicks in the several coops that are inside the store. In other words, Orscheln would need to add on another wing (in case you’re counting I’ve gotten crow, afoul and wing into this article so far) if it wanted to meet the city’s square footage requirement.

The ordinance also says that no more than 20 chickens or ducks shall be kept on any lot within the city limits. As mentioned before, the ordinance was crafted with the practice of raising backyard chickens in residential areas in mind. I covered the issue, and don’t ever recall any discussion about how the ordinance should apply to a commercial activity like the one Orscheln undertakes. The Chick Days Sale was a common practice at the time the ordinance was passed. The ordinance also doesn’t make any distinction between chicks and full-grown chickens, even though they differ in size significantly.

Jamie Knabe, an assistant manager at Orscheln, said the store shut down its Chick Days Sale in mid-April, at least a half-month earlier than it normally would have.

“It has been quite a loss in revenue and it has been quite a loss for our customers too,” Knabe said.

Knabe said Orscheln’s corporate attorneys were reviewing the matter.

• If you want to support a chicken, go eat a hamburger. There’s a little bit of news about one of downtown’s Lawrence’s popular burger joints. The Burger Stand, 803 Mass., is adding sidewalk dining to its operations.

But it is doing it in a bit of a different way. It is adding the seating area to it rear sidewalk. The businesses along the west side of the 800 block of Massachusetts Street don’t really have an alley running behind them. A public parking lot took the alley away, and instead there is a pedestrian walkway — a covered one in many cases — that runs along the backside of the buildings.

The seating area for the Burger Stand will be underneath that covered walkway. So soon, you can have a burger in the rain. My understanding is the seating area also will extend over to next door-neighbor Esquina, which is owned by the same group.

City commissioners approved the new concept without any objection at last Tuesday’s meeting.

• While we are speaking of things that are behind downtown businesses, let’s talk about the Dumpster behind the Social Service League Thrift Store, 905 R.I. The Dumpster came up at Monday’s meeting of the city’s Historic Resources Commission.

Longtime East Lawrence artist and activist K.T. Walsh expressed concern that developers of a proposed hotel/retail building at Ninth and New Hampshire may not understand the importance of the Dumpster that is directly behind the building’s proposed site.

The Dumpster is often full of goodies that the Social Service League Thrift Store can’t use in its store for one reason or another. That apparently attracts quite a crowd.

“The Social Service League Dumpster is a cultural icon,” Walsh told the commission. “I am not exaggerating. People shop there 24/7. People take their kids there. People take their dates there.”

(Wow, you are quite a Casanova if you can pull that off. I once tried to take my wife to a meager three-star restaurant, and I ended up in the Dumpster.)

Walsh told historic resources commissioners she wanted some type of assurances that the Dumpster wouldn’t have to be removed or that the practice of people coming to the site to remove items from it wouldn’t be curtailed.

“It has been the best and busiest Dumpster in Lawrence for a long time,” Walsh said.

• Another week, another week’s worth of property transfers as recorded by the Douglas County Register of Deeds office.

I mention the Douglas County Register of Deeds office every week in this column, but do you know who holds the position of Douglas County register of deeds? Points to you if you answered Kay Pesnell.

I received an announcement this morning from Pesnell, a Douglas County Democrat, that she will file for re-election this afternoon. Pesnell will be seeking her third full-term as register of deeds. She’s worked in the office since 1990.

Pesnell’s position is just one of a whole host of county positions that will be up for election in November. The sheriff, the district attorney, the treasurer, the county clerk and County Commissioners Jim Flory and Nancy Thellman all have positions expiring in 2012. The filing deadline for all the seats is June 1. If needed, a primary election will take place Aug. 7. The general election will take place Nov. 6.

Anyway, click here for this week’s list of property sales and transfers in Douglas County.

• Town Talk won’t appear tomorrow. I’ll be at the Douglas County Fairgrounds parking cars as part of the annual auto swap meet that will take place through this weekend. No, I don’t generally moonlight as a parking attendant, but my son is in a local 4-H club that parks cars there for a fundraiser. By the way, my son in 4-H owns … a pig. I knew I had some of you worried.

Comments

none2 1 year, 11 months ago

Feel Free to congratulate the city on their hard work of saving the city from the Chicks Gone Wild scandal at farm stores within the city limits. Someone had to clamp down on this horrible practice. If you want to thank your city in action, here is the info from:

http://www.lawrenceks.org/city_contacts

Location & Mailing address:

 Lawrence City Hall
 6 East 6th Street
 PO Box 708
 Lawrence, KS 66044

Phone: (785) 832-3000

E-mail: cityhall@lawrenceks.org

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Mark Jakubauskas 1 year, 11 months ago

I'd buy my chicks at Tractor Supply anyway. Looked at them both last year, the ones at Orschelen looked sick and dirty, the ones at TS a lot healthier. When I read the headline, I was thinking that they were shut down for poor treatment of animals, not the chicken ordinance.

Plus there seems to be, IMHO, very different management attitudes towards customers between the two places, which is why I drive past Orschelen to TS every time. TS is helpful and the store is clean and well-organized, Orschelen appears to be annoyed that customers even exist.

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Matthew Herbert 1 year, 11 months ago

If all five members of the Lawrence city commission kept a straight face, or at least refrained from rolling on the ground laughing while "artist and activist" KT Walsh wept over the potential loss of her dumpster, they should be applauded. I couldn't have done it.

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heygary 1 year, 11 months ago

My Grandchildren are all in school now however for years a visit to Orscheln with Grandpa during Chick Days was something we both eagerly anticipated. You will never forget the look of pure joy on the face of a two year old when they first see a a couple dozen baby ducks or chicks.

I suspect if you put 100 baby chicks/ducks in a 2 acre pen, they would still group together in a 2 square foot area.

Disappointing!

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 1 year, 11 months ago

For a chick a day old to 2 weeks, they should have 6-10 square inches of space, 1-2 inchs of feeder space, and 1 inch of water space.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 1 year, 11 months ago

For a chick a day old to 2 weeks, they should have 6-10 square inches of space, 1-2 inchs of feeder space, and 1 inch of water space.

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SandCoAlmanac 1 year, 11 months ago

I hope Orscheln Farm and Home will be able to re-coop its losses next year.

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rockchalker52 1 year, 11 months ago

To sell those chicks you need a farm. E-I-E-I-OH! City tool with his rule lookin' like the bigger fool. To sell those chicks you need a farm. E-I-E-I-OH!

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impska 1 year, 11 months ago

I think it's sad that the city of Lawrence eliminated a local supplier of chicks, despite allowing backyard chickens. Backyard chicken-keepers don't need 25 chicks (the usual minimum order, as pointed out above) - they need to be able to walk into a farm supply store like Orscheln and pick out just a few.

Clearly the city needs to review its ordinance to distinguish between selling chicks retail and raising birds in the backyard. It's really awful that someone wasn't able to use their common sense on this one!

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pace 1 year, 11 months ago

You can't pick up chicks in Lawrence anymore? You got to go out of town. This will close the bars.

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 11 months ago

maybe a slight boycott of certain commissioner's businesses so that they feel the economic downturn...

Orscheln should close up, move to just outside Douglas County and bulldoze the current property and take it off the tax rollls or until then just board the place up. After all, it is east of Kasold and no one at City Hall will be the wiser...What a disgrace that the City took the action it did and just didn't consider how foolish they are at City Hall. This goes to show you that even the new Mayor has no clout, it's just another titular title.

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werekoala 1 year, 11 months ago

City hall over-reacted on the artist thing. They didn't like the idea, so they scrambled through the codes to find something to stop it with, pulled the Backyard Chicken ordinance out of their behinds, and called it good. Then someone (woukdnt be surprised if it was someone with an axe to grind about the treatment of the artist) called them put on it, and before you can say "unintended consequences" they either have to be blatantly hypocritical (maybe even liable to the artist) or being hostile to a tax paying business. No one on Fourth Floor ever admits wrongdoing, or apologizes...

The city chose to shut down a positive, sales tax generating tradition for many area families, because it was more important to spare the lives of a few hens from some goofy "artistic statement" that no one would have remembered a year later. Well done, gentlemen, well done indeed.

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cheeseburger 1 year, 11 months ago

The more I think about KT's precious Dumpster and the ruling on Orscheln's chicks, the more I truly think we should be embarrassed that we have let Larryville get so left of reasonable.

No one in their right mind would worship a Dumpster, nor would they view Orscheln's operation as unlawful or inappropriate.

Would it be possible to insert a modicum of reasonableness in what city staff does?

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patkindle 1 year, 11 months ago

lawrence desperatly needs more rich tax paying citizens not many left to support the layabouts

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oneeye_wilbur 1 year, 11 months ago

As feared, the new city attorney has had a personality change and McCullough is doing nothing but updatind his resume.

Lawrence does not want trailers in the city limits. Lawrence does not want retirees unless they are rich and that means rich enough to buy the stupid houses out west that no one really wants. Lawrence has been for at least the past 20 years an elitist community and becoming moreso.

Sad, but true. Orshcheln spent money improving their business operation and now this.

Now: Is Lawrence business friendly?

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tomatogrower 1 year, 11 months ago

Oh good grief. These are chicks. They need to be together for warmth. They will be sold soon anyway. Are you going to have the pet store put all their finches in separate cages?

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 1 year, 11 months ago

The State of Kansas only requires 35 square feet per child.
Most children are more than 3 times larger than a chicken... Go figure.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 11 months ago

Let's not overlook the real gem of this piece. It's not the chicken ban. Government stupidity in Larry is pretty much the standard. The real piece de resistance is the dumpster diving dates. I mean who ever heard of an objection to a new development because it was going to make dumpster diving dates more difficult? This town is just absolutely amazing in its weirdness.

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consumer1 1 year, 11 months ago

Chad, can you tell us which one of our leaders started this "chicken bust"? YOu could be Foghorn Lawhorn. The super Rooster Journalist!

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consumer1 1 year, 11 months ago

Psst! Hey kid, wanna buy some black market chickens? (As offender is opening his trech coat to display rows of somewhat lifeless chicks) what? Naw, their alive ya just gotta shake em a little. Will this be in the New York Times tomorrow? Hick town in Kansas, bust illegal chick ring.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 1 year, 11 months ago

$32.00 will get you 25 assorted chick cockerels, the "Frying Pan Special" delivered via the US Postal Service to the City Hall Offices.
Hell that is cheaper than getting a 1/2 dozen roses delivered.

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Pywacket 1 year, 11 months ago

Oh, for crying out loud... Unless Orscheln was doing or failing to do something that we don't know about (such as--failing to keep the chicks' water clean), this is lunacy. We bought chicks there several years ago when we decided to keep a few laying hens and received healthy, beautiful stock.

We've gone in there just to see the chicks every year for a long time, as the kids always got a kick out of seeing them. I have never seen them kept any other way than clean, warm, and with access to fresh water and feed. You could go in there at any time during store hours and see that the chicks had fresh bedding, food, water, and heat lamps to keep them warm. Orscheln does a wonderful job and an ordinance meant for residential housing of growing/adult hens should not be applicable to TEMPORARY sales of baby chicks.

If that is, indeed, what the problem is, then the city commissioners (and whoever is enforcing this) should be vilifying the bird brains who wrote the ordinance. Clearly, they should have written in specific exceptions for temporary sales situations by licensed retailers. If they failed to do so, which this article suggests is possible, they need to remedy that so as not to further impact the sales of a good, steady Lawrence business again next spring.

If it would make them uneasy to completely exempt such retailers from regulation, they should write up a separate provision especially for sales of hatchlings. Then they could still require the basics of cleanliness, etc., in case a less-fastidious retailer started selling chicks and keeping them in deplorable situations.

The space requirements for adult hens is very different from those of chicks. Chicks thrive in a small enclosure--they keep each other warm. Of course, it would be possible to overcrowd but I've never witnessed Orscheln do that in all the years I've been going there. The chicks always have plenty of space to run about.

I did notice that the Lawrence Orscheln didn't have any chicks the last time I went in there for something, but when I stopped at the Ottawa store a week later, they still had theirs. I just figured Lawrence had sold out early or something. I had no idea that the city was all up in their business!

Another thought: If the "chickens in the city" ordinance is the source of trouble, why didn't they crack down on Orschelns BEFORE there was any such ordinance? I.e., when chickens weren't legal at all in the city? Answer: because in the past, whoever was in charge of enforcing the residential poultry ban was able to figure out that what Orscheln did as a retailer had nothing to do with residential standards or laws.

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pace 1 year, 11 months ago

I am glad that backway can have a few table on it. The cheese shop had a couple of table back there. I am not as frightened by the proximity of a dumpster. If it is unpleasant, let the customers decide. It is stupid to suggest that people can't use the walk way if they have some seating here and there. I prefer some seating there..

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 1 year, 11 months ago

It does not cost much to mail order 25 chicks (typical minimum order) and have them delivered to the city managers office ...

City Hall 6 E. 6th Street Lawrence, KS 66044

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cobaltblue 1 year, 11 months ago

I was wondering why all the chickens were gone at Orschlens the other day when I went out for more chicken feed. Glad I got my chicks earlier this year before the poultry police took over. Common sense has gone out the window in this town.

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JackMcKee 1 year, 11 months ago

It just gives me such a warm good feeling in my tummy that Lawrence cares so much about the well being of chickens. What a bunch of really good people. I bet they feel really great about themselves.

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MattressMan 1 year, 11 months ago

Chick days at Orschelns has been going on a long time. I think TSC does it as well and maybe iirc the feed store on 6th may have done it in the past as well. Like someone earlier posted, how about the pet stores, do creatures other than chickens not deserve adequate space? Are there any square foot requirements for cats or dogs? Does the animal shelter conform? I'm pretty sure most of the cats in there don't have 10 sq ft to roam. Last and not least what about all the 4-H'ers, will they allow the poultry exhibit this year, if so why, afterall the fairgrounds are in the city limit.

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Munsoned 1 year, 11 months ago

Ten square feet per chick-- that's more space than the homeless get!

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pace 1 year, 11 months ago

Orscheln chicken
It is just too elitist that we are sending people to Bonner springs to buy their young chickens and ducks. It must be the, out of their mind control freaks who , when faced with enforcing the code, they choose to pop it on the business or citizens rather than first run a memo to the commissioners. They don't like to communicate, so they don't. Instead they surprise businesses, citizens, and commissioners. Corliss has not done a good job of cleaning up that department's anti public culture. A lot of old rotten apples in that basket. The lack of communication and egotistical power trips that department has been on, has been out of control for a long time. They refuse to send a letter to anyone explaining a code regulation as it applies to a property, they have a policy that only allows communication in person or by email. But they won't say it direct, they don't like saying much direct, unless they have the cat's seat. Unless they find a violation, then they can write a letter. What kind of rule is that. Some little toad in that office just thinks "Why would anyone raise their own eggs or heaven forbid, their own meat. If god had wanted them to have chickens he wouldn't have created major grocery store corporations. They don't care if their code changes affect the people living in the county. It is all about them, and the less they communicate the more power trips they can ride.

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RDE87 1 year, 11 months ago

Isn't the burger stand's back patio right by a dumpster??

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Keith Richards 1 year, 11 months ago

Dumpster diving is illegal in the city of Lawrence. Shut down KT walsh and her junk store.

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LogicMan 1 year, 11 months ago

On selling chicks:

Oh, please! Orscheln et al's sales of chicks have to be exempt. Have you forgotten your roots, Kansas?

Do Kansas's "right to farm" laws override the city's?

But if Orscheln and others aren't exempted, now I'd like to see the city's enforcers go after the U.S. Post Office. Did you know they store live chicks en route from vendors to customers in crammed-full, tiny little boxes?

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d_prowess 1 year, 11 months ago

The sidewalk behind the Burger Stand and Esquina is always pretty dirty and I think there is a dumpster for the other building right there that often smells. Also there isn't much of a view either. Good luck to them, but that is probably the last place I would ever sit to eat and I love the Burger Stand!

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JackMcKee 1 year, 11 months ago

the chick thing and the "artist" with dumpster dates. I rest my case.

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cowboy 1 year, 11 months ago

Only in Lawrence.... Orscheln has a right to face the accuser , they should have told the city to shove off , or shove it and forced them to have the great swat chicken raid. They would have immediately been the laughing stock of the entire country.

A big bronx cheer for codes and the city attorney , you suck !

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Keith 1 year, 11 months ago

Is Tractor Supply in the city limits? I agree this is a stupid implementation of the ordinance which was written with adult birds in mind.

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patkindle 1 year, 11 months ago

The city of Lawrence usually only respond to complaints some doo gooder that has issues must have complained about chick days

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Take_a_letter_Maria 1 year, 11 months ago

I wonder who the chicken is that called fowl on Orscheln's.

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consumer1 1 year, 11 months ago

The city of Lawrence has reached a new height in stupidity.

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somedude20 1 year, 11 months ago

"The seating area for the Burger Stand will be underneath that covered walkway. So soon, you can have a burger in the rain. My understanding is the seating area also will extend over to next door-neighbor Esquina, which is owned by the same group."

So the public walkway that is used when parking in that lot, that is covered to protect people from the elements and was paid for with tax dollars is now going to be taken up by a private business? Sweet!

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avoice 1 year, 11 months ago

How about not using an ordinance created to police residential pets to encompass retail sales of small animals? How does Orscheln's chick sale differ from Pet World or Petco housing multiple small animals in pens? Or is it just chickens that incur these requirements?

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