City Council For Urban Chickens - Just Not Yet

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

City Council members on Tuesday night indicated strong support for allowing residents to keep backyard chickens, but the approval will have to wait at least until early July.

A majority of council members voted to defer action until the new Animal Control Board can study an ordinance drafted by District 7 Councilman Chris Anderson and community members.

Voting to defer until July 2 were Carol Berz, Russell Gilbert, Larry Grohn, Chip Henderson, Moses Freeman and Chairman Yusuf Hakeem.

Voting against the deferral were Council members Anderson, Jerry Mitchell and Ken Smith.

One potential area of disagreement arose when Councilman Anderson said his ordinance did not require pre-inspection of urban chicken owners. He said inspections would only come if there were complaints about the operation.

Mike Mallen, Animal Control Board chairman, said, "I do not understand how we can grant a permit without some type of due diligence."

He said his panel should have a new animal control ordinance worked out in about two or three more meetings - 6-8 weeks. The group's next meeting is at noon on Monday at the J.B. Collins Conference Room near the City Council meeting room.

Karen Walsh, director of the McKamey Animal Trust, who said she no longer opposes urban chickens, also said she favors having the new board study the topic.

Councilman Freeman said the motion was contingent on the Animal Control Board acting favorably on urban chicken ownership.

Vice Chairman Henderson said he strongly favors chicken ownership, "but we need to follow process."

Councilwoman Berz said, "I really like the idea of urban chickens. I just want to do it right."

Councilman Grohn said it appeared those favoring the chickens wanted "a total rush for no reason."

Councilman Anderson said urban chickens came up often during his campaign - far more than any other animal or fowl topic.

He said residents should be able to enjoy fresh eggs "and new pets."

Many other cities are embracing the idea, he said.     

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