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Thread: Pros and cons of urban chickens?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian ssc's avatar
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    Pros and cons of urban chickens?

    I just posted about wind turbines, and now have a chicken issue also - looks like we are dealing with lots of traditionally rural issues in our city!

    Our city code is silent on chickens. Some elected officials want to zone them out, citing all kinds of negative impacts (attracting fox and racoons etc., dirt, noise, smell). My preference would be to regulate them, but I am not sure if this is a battle I want to take on right now. I'd really like to know what other urban areas are doing vis a vis chickens. And what kinds of impacts do urban chickens have? For example, is there any info out there on whether chickens really do attract vermin?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian stroskey's avatar
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    I don't know if there are true "facts" out there for what you seek. Pro-chicken people will say it promotes cultural diversity and healthy eating. Anti-chicken people will say they are obnoxious and don't fit in with a city. All viewpoints are right - so what quantitative evidence can you use? We do not allow them on residential properties. We allow them on industrial lots at least 10 feet from the lot lines and 50 feet from the front lot line. We've never really run into a problem with this yet.
    Last edited by stroskey; 08 Jul 2011 at 10:59 AM.
    I burned down the church to atone for my transgressions.

  3. #3

    Urban Chickens in Austin is Hot

    Here's a link to the City of Austin's Animal Ordinance that addresses chickens. http://fccooptour.blogspot.com/2009/10/resources.html

    Also, note that many HOA's regulate the number of chickens that people can have.

    There's a really fun Funky Chicken Coop Tour every year in Austin where people can visit different urban chicken coops and ask questions. It's a great way to educate folks on the positives and negatives of urban chickens. http://fccooptour.blogspot.com/2005/...questions.html

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    The city I live in allows them in certain lower density residential zoning and caps the number of chickens but forbids roosters. This summary is from you wife. I will see if I can dig it up. Urban chickens seems very hot in the local food sourcing movement...plus they help with pest control. We have a small scorpion problem hence our interest.
    "You merely adopted the dark. I was born in it,..." -Bane

  5. #5
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Check out Urban Chickens, a website that was created by a fellow planner friend. This page links you to ordinances throughout the country. The site in general has a lot information in support of allowing chicken keeping in urban areas.

    Our City allows them, but puts restrictions on roosters (I think you can have one). Of course, if you have all hens, sometimes one of them will take on the role of rooster anyway. They also have to be setback from neighboring property lines. But that's about it. I'm not even sure there is a limit on number. Or if there is, its pretty high.

    From what limited amount I know (I don't have them, but know people who do), the cons include noise issues, potential smell in tight urban spaces, disposing of or using up excess manure and, from a personal viewpoint, damage to your garden and landscaping (those little buggers can tear up a pretty big area in very little time).
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  6. #6
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by wahday View post
    Check out Urban Chickens, a website that was created by a fellow planner friend. This page links you to ordinances throughout the country. The site in general has a lot information in support of allowing chicken keeping in urban areas.

    Our City allows them, ....
    Several cities hereabouts have come to their senses and allow a maximum number with no roosters. So far no ululations from the righteous in the papers...

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Key West asks that each tourist take at least one rooster/chicken home with them!

    Apparently they make a mess and are a nuisance.

    We have remedies for "nuisance" in our ordinances.

    Our RE-A and RE-B Zones allow the breeding, raising, and feeding of grazing livestock provided they are kept on a tract 3 acres or larger, and pens must be 200 feet away from property lines and street right-of-ways.

    Our Residential area zones refer to the Animal Control Ordinance for "domestic animals." Otherwise they must be in an RE-A, RE-B, or Agricultural Zone.

    We have a separate Animal Control Ordinance that deals with keeping animals.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Here's a link to a discussion on raising chickens in the City of Buffalo ... with a link by yours truly to another article on the failure of urban chicken advocates in Albany to get that city to allow them. City Chickens

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    I went through this very topic earlier this year and came up with a win-win for the Council members and those who supported fowl.

    16.20.390 Keeping and raising of farm animals.

    A. The keeping and raising of all hoofed farm animals and use of private stables shall be limited to property having a minimum lot area of three acres which is not part of a platted subdivision. All buildings appurtenant to the keeping and raising of hoofed farm animals shall be located a minimum of one hundred (100) feet from any property line.
    B. The accessory use of keeping and raising of fowl for personal use shall be limited to the following:
    1. No fowl shall be kept on a lot of a less than one thousand (1,000) square feet.
    2. The number of fowl shall be limited to one per one thousand (1,000) square feet of lot size with a maximum of twelve fowl.
    3. All fowl shall be penned or corralled and shall not run at large off of the owner’s property.
    4. All buildings appurtenant to the keeping and raising of fowl shall be kept fifteen feet from all property lines.
    5. All coops, pens or other structures housing fowl shall be free of vermin.
    6. The following shall be prohibited: male fowl (roosters, toms, drakes, etc.), guineas and geese.


    I will freely admit that by prohibiting male fowl does not lend itself kindly to having a sustainable flock but that was not the purpose of this ordinance.

    The city I work for is fairly dense in that the average single family residential lot size is around 4500 sq.ft.
    This was passed in March and we have not had any more complaints, knock on wood.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by shell_waster View post



    16.20.390 Keeping and raising of farm animals.

    A. The keeping and raising of all hoofed farm animals and use of private stables shall be limited to property having a minimum lot area of three acres which is not part of a platted subdivision. All buildings appurtenant to the keeping and raising of hoofed farm animals shall be located a minimum of one hundred (100) feet from any property line.
    B. The accessory use of keeping and raising of fowl for personal use shall be limited to the following:
    1. No fowl shall be kept on a lot of a less than one thousand (1,000) square feet.
    2. The number of fowl shall be limited to one per one thousand (1,000) square feet of lot size with a maximum of twelve fowl.
    3. All fowl shall be penned or corralled and shall not run at large off of the owner’s property.
    4. All buildings appurtenant to the keeping and raising of fowl shall be kept fifteen feet from all property lines.
    5. All coops, pens or other structures housing fowl shall be free of vermin.
    6. The following shall be prohibited: male fowl (roosters, toms, drakes, etc.), guineas and geese.


    I will freely admit that by prohibiting male fowl does not lend itself kindly to having a sustainable flock but that was not the purpose of this ordinance.
    .
    Plenty of people keep chickens without roosters. Nonetheless, that verbiage is good and should work for you in that place. I like how you how you keep the number low by birds/sf.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    I have a very few chickens but am in rural setting anyway. Without a rooster there is very little fighting and it is quiet...hens lay eggs anyway, you know. We let them out for semi-supervised forages.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
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    We just implemented a backyard chicken ordinance last year after very similar research. The website somebody else listed is good. We also spent a good deal of time talking with the staff in Portland ME. They've had an ordinance for some time and gave us good insight. In the end, we went with it. I'll note that it is a stand-alone ordinance and not part of our zoning bylaws. You can pm me for a link to our ordinance if you'd like to see it.

  13. #13
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    My Fair County is in the midst of an update to its land development regulations (which I am co-lead on), and we've broached this subject. Our proposal is to limit homeowners to no more than six hens, with no roosters. Coops must be clean and free of vermin, feed must be kept in vermin-proof containers, and the birds can't run free.

    When I discussed this subject at an agricultural advisory committee meeting (along with urban farms and community gardens), a County Commissioner said that it was communism to have regulations for these things. I didn't quite get his point, and didn't bother to pursue it.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian ssc's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Goose View post
    When I discussed this subject at an agricultural advisory committee meeting (along with urban farms and community gardens), a County Commissioner said that it was communism to have regulations for these things. I didn't quite get his point, and didn't bother to pursue it.

    The fun of being a planner - it never ends, does it?

  15. #15
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Goose View post
    a County Commissioner said that it was communism to have regulations for these things. .
    Quote Originally posted by ssc View post

    The fun of being a planner - it never ends, does it?
    At least they didn't say "Socialism", forcing you to suppress a chuckle in a public meeting.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    May fair city says:


    Domestic Fowl. Up to five domestic fowl may be kept accessory to any principal use on any lot in addition to the small animals permitted in subsection (A)(1) of this section. For each 1,000 square feet of lot area in excess of the minimum lot area required for the zone or, if there is no minimum lot area, for each 1,000 square feet of lot area in excess of 5,000 square feet, one additional domestic fowl may be kept. The keeping of peafowl is prohibited.
    “Domestic fowl” means mature female chickens (i.e., hens), but not roosters.

  17. #17
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    I would urge planners to include setbacks and screening for slaughter in all residential and urban areas.

    In my case, we have residential large lots of multiple acres, with chickens permitted, number based on space, but no other regs (other than for large-scale slaughterhouse).

    Dear neighbor has elected to slaughter and process chickens on the property line, to max out distance from their residence. Killing cones are permanently installed on a cross fence a few feet from property line. Vats for boiling, stainless steel tables for butchering, remain in place on the property line for the next batch. Blood is hosed to dilution on the ground. Needless to say, the flies abound at certain times.

    Until this becomes a documentable health hazard, we have no recourse based on the ordinances. What seems reasonable? To us, a 25 ft. setback with some kind of screening, even if temporary -- like rope and tarps.

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