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Will urban chickens fly?

Council debates urban chickens, possibly creating city ordinance

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 11:00 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013 11:23 a.m. CDT

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What came first — the urban chicken or urban egg?

Osceola City Council discussed the possibility of people keeping chickens within the city and creating an urban-chicken ordinance during its Oct. 3 meeting.

There was a request on the agenda to have chickens at 306 N. Fillmore St. The request is currently for three chickens, and eventually, the number will increase to five.

There is a city code regarding livestock. Part of the code says it is unlawful for a person to keep livestock, which includes chickens, within the city limits, except by written consent of the council.

“I guess, your honor, in the past, some of our approvals have been already-existing operations,” said Councilman Dr. George Fotiadis, “and I know we’ve asked this question before, where do we stop?”

Mayor Fred Diehl said many previous chicken approvals have been with people who have had chickens “forever and ever.”

Chicken grievances/advantages

Fotiadis said he doesn’t view chickens as objectionable, but some people do.

“The roosters do sing a little bit,” Fotiadis said. “You have their waste management. And, do you want a backyard with a nice, green lawn, and then, right there, a backyard with fences and patches that looks like a livestock confinement? Which neighborhoods do we exclude and which neighborhoods do we protect? Where do we go?”

Councilwoman Sarah Truitt said she has many friends who live in the Beaverdale area of Des Moines and have chickens.

She said people are becoming more concerned with processed foods and hormones in food.

“People are way more likely to want to have their own eggs,” Truitt said. “The way that we eat is changing, and it surprises me that in a more rural area we would be so adamantly against having chickens.”

Truitt added she would rather have chickens than neighborhood dogs who are unruly and stink.

Bigger cities

Wheeler said he knew Iowa City had an urban-chicken ordinance that is restrictive with fees, coop cleanliness and having no more than four chickens.

“It’s a revenue-generating approval,” Wheeler said. “The only problem is, in cities of that size, you’ve got departments — animal control-type personnel — that can handle that kind of thing.”

A joke was made about using Osceola Police Department for chicken inspections.

“I want to go on the record and say the police department likes chicken,” said Osceola Police Chief Marty Duffus.

The jokes continued with people saying police officers best like their chicken fried.

Once the laughter died down, the council decided to take no action during the meeting and discuss the issue at a later date when more urban-chicken ordinance information is available.

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