Council tables chicken ordinance for Nov. 19 meeting

City Editor and City Editor

Since June, some citizens have been trying to get legislation through city council to permit people owning egg-laying chickens within the city limits.

Despite a 7-0 recommendation from the Planning Commission against changing the current ordinance, which prohibits agricultural animals such as chickens from living within the city, council decided to table the proposal until next meeting to make further amendments.

Before city council, members listened to citizens on both sides of the issue deliver their testimonies for more than an hour, vocalizing concerns of noise, smell and possible drops in property value.

Stephen Bihary, a neighbor of a chicken owner on Madison Court, said they haven’t been bothersome at all.

“We rarely hear them and there is no smell,” Bihary said. “Dogs are more of a nuisance.”

Council member Sandy Rowland offered her own insight in favor of the issue.

Rowland said she walks in Simpson Garden Park often, where chickens live adjacent to, and has never heard nor seen them in the years she has walked the park.

Some citizens argued that chickens belong on a farm.

Richard Schultz of Normandy Boulevard, who said he had been raised on a farm, said he moved to the city so he didn’t have to smell farm animals.

“If you talk to any farmer, chickens are put in a field because they stink,” Schultz said.

Schultz also said the ordinance is a slippery slope because what if people start wanting pigs because they don’t like snakes.

“This is the city and it should be protected from country life,” he said.

Mike Aspacher, Third Ward council member, said each side presented compelling arguments, but through a discussion with a veterinarian, he would not be inclined to overturn the previous 7-0 ruling against the proposal.

“The veterinarian was concerned for the potential for disease that could impact the public health,” Aspacher said. “Chickens could also attract unwanted forms of wildlife.”

Robert McOmber, council member at-large, said he is opposed because most people he talked to were against it.

“There are a small number of passionate people for it and a large number of non-passionate people against it,” McOmber said.

Rowland sees the ordinance as a negotiation.

“We have to see how we can accommodate everyone,” she said.

Some of the restrictions of the legislation include that for someone to own chickens, they must have written consent from adjacent property owners, they must purchase a yearly permit and the chickens or hens should be provided with an enclosure.

Council voted to table the ordinance in order to clarify any holes like setting a fee, restricting chickens to backyards only and if the chicken owner is renting, they must get consent form the landlord.

Council members will make recommendations to City Attorney Matt Marsh before it is presented at the Nov. 19 council meeting, where council will decide to propose it or do nothing, which would nullify the ordinance, said John Zanfardino, Second Ward council member.