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Sit and roost

Council asks city staff to create proposal for urban-chicken ordinance

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 9:43 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013 10:03 a.m. CDT

The urban-chicken issue will just have to roost for a little bit longer.

The subject of people keeping chickens within city limits was on the agenda during a Nov. 19 Osceola City Council meeting, but the council decided to table the subject, for now.

“If we approve this, somebody else is going to come in and bring donkeys to town, or whatever,” said Councilman Glenn Schaff.

Original request

During an Oct. 3 council meeting, there was a request to keep chickens at 306 N. Fillmore St.

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.

The council has debated the urban-chicken issue for the past couple of months.

During the Nov. 19 council meeting, Ty Wheeler, city administrator/clerk, brought information on urban-chicken ordinances from cities across the country.

“If we’re going to have a problem, or think we’re going to have a problem, I think we need to change the ordinance,” said Councilman Dave Walkup.

Walkup added, he is open to changing the ordinance, but thinks it’s a good idea to have neighbors “sign-off” with a person keeping chickens in their urban neighborhoods.

Food movement

Councilwoman Sarah Truitt read an excerpt from the information Wheeler presented to the council. She discussed how there is a growing local-food movement, and the importance of municipalities needing to take action on keeping chickens within city limits.

“To me, it’s just a matter of do we want to deal with it and set the precedent, or are we going to deal with it on an individual basis?” Truitt said. “One of the things I have heard over and over is we can’t make exceptions for some, and some rules for some people, and not for others. In my mind, I see an ordinance making the rules very clear for whoever’s interested in having chickens or not, and I don’t think it’s impossible to regulate it. I don’t think that’s above what our city can do.”

Truitt said there are a lot more young people looking into being self-sufficient with their living and diets.

“I think this is going to be a no-brainer in the future,” she said. “It’s just a matter of when we get on board in Osceola.”

Mayor Fred Diehl clarified, if the council is going to do something about chickens, the livestock ordinance needs to be changed.

Truitt said she doesn’t think 600 people are going to come to city hall with urban-chicken requests. However, it could become more popular in the future.

Staying relevant

“I think that, as a community, our goal is to stay relevant with what people are doing and trending. I think it’s important,” she said.

The council decided to have city staff put together an urban-chicken ordinance proposal and bring it back to a later council meeting for further discussion.

Truitt said the city should look into having an animal-control position in the future.

“I think there are quality-of-life issues that are being compromised because of the fact that we don’t have an animal-control person … but I don’t know that that’s within the budget in our future,” she said. “But, I think it’s something to consider if we expect to continue to grow and be a place where people enjoy living.”

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