Wednesday, January 26, 2011

No Backyard Chickens For You!

A big thumbs down to the Springville city council for voting down a proposal that would allow residents on less than 1/2 acre of ground to keep backyard hens.  I hear people complain all the time that the Federal Government is taking away our rights.  As a member of a city council myself I can say that there is no government more invasive and more likely to take away peoples rights than city government.  Springville has a rich heritage in farming and agriculture and now has apparently forgotten its roots.

I can completely understand concerns with keeping chickens if residents are asking to keep roosters as well.  Roosters can be noisy although I have lived next to dogs that were far noisier.  The Springville city council cited two concerns as grounds for rejecting the ordinance:

   1. Cost of enforcing the ordinance
   2. Chickens will attract wild animals into the city

The cost of enforcing the ordinance.  This is a lame excuse.  How many residents do they actually expect will start keeping laying hens in their backyard?  The town only has about 6,400 owner occupied households.  Subtract a few hundred for condos and such and they are left with 6,000 owner occupied households.  I would be shocked if more than 1% of households kept chickens.  Of these, how many are going to abuse the ordinance to require enforcement?  Portland, OR a very "foodie" city allows residents to keep up to 3 hens.  For four or more, a permit is required.  In all of Portland (pop. 582,000) only 52 households have applied for this permit.  Regardless of the minuscule cost, why not just fine the non complying households enough to cover the enforcement costs?

Chickens will attract wild animals into the city.  Based on this logic, they city would need to ban backyard gardens as well as pet food, bird seed, backyard BBQs, and picnics at the park.  We keep lots of chickens and turkeys.  We live in the country where at least once a year I see mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes, foxes, badgers, raccoons, and skunks.  All are potential predators.  The only problems I have had are with raccoons and skunks.  I can raise chickens all year without a problem, but as soon as the garden starts to produce corn, here come the raccoons.  They wreck havoc on our gardens.  The skunks have killed chickens on occasion, but mostly they go after cat food and garbage.  My point is, that there are far greater attractions for critters than just chickens.  Again, we live in the country where there is far more wildlife than in a suburban setting.

It is saddening that a small city like Springville deprives its residents of the opportunity to produce their own eggs.  I can fully understand the problems with keeping common livestock within city limits.  As a resident of Springville, you can have numerous dogs, cats, rabbits, reptiles, hamsters, parrots etc... all of which you can breed and produce offspring.  Try and keep a couple of chickens to do something meaningful like produce your own eggs and that is problematic. Wake up Springville City Council! Booooo!


Anonymous said...

I live in Springville and I have had chickens for over a year now. I based my decision to keep them based upon the Springville Municipal Code which states:

(3) No chicken coop, house, or pen, or any other structure used for any containment of fowl, including pigeons, except for household pets, shall be kept or maintained closer than 100 feet from the door or window of any dwelling other than the dwelling of the person keeping or having the same.

To me that says I can keep them, but I guess today they decided otherwise.

Funny Farmer said...

I live in Spanish Fork and have kept a few meat birds and laying hens on my 1/4 acre plot, which is technically against city ordinance. The thing about most ordinances like this... as long as the neighbors don't complain, the city will never know.

Before getting my chicks, I simply talked to all my immediate neighbors to make sure no one had any objections. They were all more than fine with it, and several even brought their kids over to visit the birds, as well as watch the butchering operation.

Chickens are IDEAL for backyard livestock because they are quiet, take up little space and if managed properly, don't stink. I can't say the same for dogs, however.

Kaisha said...

This is so sad! I live in Spanish fork and on a 1/4 acre and want chickens so badly! I don't know what all the fuss is about.

Anonymous said...

I currently live in Provo and have chickens. We have seriously considered homes in Springville because we like the feel of the community and the price of homes. However, when I learned of the anti-chicken ordinance I decided I'd rather keep my chickens then live there. But it broke my heart that such a little thing is keeping me from moving there.