City manager hears sides of chicken zoning law issue

City manager hears sides of chicken zoning law issue

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Citizens made their cases clear at a Wednesday night meeting. Citizens made their cases clear at a Wednesday night meeting.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Huntsville residents sounded off Wednesday over proposed changes to city zoning laws that would open the door to chickens in city yards.

The city's Manager of Planning Administration, Marie Bostick, invited public discussion of the proposal and opened up the gathering with an acknowledgement that passions run high both for and against the idea.

Current Huntsville zoning prohibits chicken coops within 150 feet of any neighboring structure, effectively banning them in most of the city.

The ordinance under consideration would allow up to 3 chickens, hens only, as long as their coop is at least 10 feet from any property line.  It also mandates that chicken coops bet at least 12 square feet in size, 4 feet for each chicken.

Some city residents questioned how thoroughly the city could police a population of chickens in area yards when issues often rise already with violations involving dogs.  

"I live near chickens and it's not fun. Theyr'e loud. There's an odor. You can't leave your windows open. They're clucking and clacking. With or without a rooster, they're still noisy.   That's something I believe you should be free from," said resident Margaret Markin.

Mary Jayroe voiced her disapproval: "If parents want to show their children where eggs come from, the Burritt museium has all sorts of farm animals and chickens," she said.

For those in favor of the ordinance, residents reasoned with logic, saying the coops would be downscaled for the purposes of urbanization. 

"I think it's valuable to have a few chickens in your back yard if you're able to. I think if ten feet is the sticking point. It's encouraging for families to grow their own, have their own eggs," said Lee Ellenburg.

The city's proposed new chicken regulation will next go before the city planning commission, probably in December, said Bostick.  If it's approved, the city council would then take it up early next year, she said.

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