The City of Calhoun wants inner city chickens and their farm animal counterparts to fly the coop – in most cases.
Until now, chickens were permitted in residentially-zoned backyards that met space restrictions, but they were required to be confined. City council began examining the issue of chickens and farm animals within city limits after several residents expressed concern that the poultry was being kept in subdivisions.
Current city ordinances list “noncommercial horticulture and agricultural” endeavors as permitted uses for R-1 zoned land “except in front and side yard setbacks.”
“In general, front yard setbacks can be anywhere from 25 to 50 feet and side yard setbacks can be anywhere from 10 to 35 feet,” explained City Deputy Clerk Paul Worley.
“In general,” he explained, this means chickens “are permitted if confined in back yards.”
The proposed amendments to the ordinance state that keeping farm animals in residentially-zoned areas within city limits is a nuisance, however, and endangers the health of the public and welfare of the citizens and that these animals are not made for urban lifestyles due to the threat of disease, noise and waste control deposited onto public and private property. The ordinance also addresses requiring owners to clean up after their animals.
Farm animals are still allowed on city land zoned A-1, according to the proposed ordinance.
The council came at this issue with several points in mind, including the complications backyard chickens may pose to the poultry population at large.
When the Council first began examining the issue of chickens in subdivisions, one council member said small flocks, when not tended properly, can also pose a danger to the poultry industry.
“Agriculture is the largest economic boon there is … and the poultry industry plays into that very heavily,” explained Council Member David Hammond in a previous interview.
“Backyard flocks,” he explained, often increase “the potential for disease spread,” endangering the entire poultry industry.
This issue goes much further, however; the revisions to the ordinance are ultimately designed to quell the possible nuisance situations some animals pose. Residents of the city have property rights, Hammond said, and not everyone relishes the idea of living next to domesticated fowl or farm animals.
“I think the vast majority will be in favor of it (the proposed ordinance),” said Hammond. “People who live in the city want to live in the city without a farm animal issue.”
The proposed ordinance is divided into six sections, beginning with the proper definition of what the city council considers a farm animal to be:
Mayor and City Council members will vote on whether to adopt the proposed ordinance at a later meeting. For a complete copy of the proposed ordinance, interested citizens may visit City Hall.
This ordinance is still under the reading process by the mayor and council and will be voted on at a later date.