The council was to discuss the matter at last week’s meeting, but it was determined that the public hearing notice was released prior to the final draft of proposed revisions, so the council advised staff to re-notice the hearing, which is now scheduled for April 12.
While the council didn’t comment on the matter as the hearing was postponed, members of the public were invited to speak at the March 22 meeting in case they’re unable to make the next meeting. The three residents who spoke before the council supported the amendment that would allow up to three chickens, chinchillas, hamsters or rabbits in all residential districts. Roosters, however, will be prohibited.
Cheryl Metzler said she was unaware of the ordinance and allowed her son Kyle to raise three chickens at their Oakley home. While Kyle treated the chickens as pets, a neighbor’s dog dug under the fence in January and “murdered” two of his “babies.” As a result, the other chicken was removed from the property.
According to Metzler, chickens are quiet, easy to care for, and make good pets. Her son learned a lot about responsibility by caring for the birds, and she urged the council to allow her family to get a new batch of baby birds to raise.
Metzler told the council that since chickens don’t lay waste all over the place and are no danger to neighbors, they make better pets than cats or dogs.
“Chickens don’t attack people …” Metzler said. “A chicken doesn’t bark aggressively when you go to take your garbage out. They don’t have beer parties and blast loud music all summer long. They don’t make any more noise than a bird chirping in the tree, which we hear all the time and actually enjoy.”
Kyle also addressed the council and asked its members to vote in favor of the amendment. As a member of 4-H living in a residential area, he is unable to raise livestock, but he would be able to participate by legally raising chickens if the amendment is passed.
For Shawn Horrocks, whose family of five is allergic to cats and dogs, the amendment would allow her family to own rabbits and chickens. They have owned fish, but according to Horrocks, “a fish in a bowl just doesn’t cut it.” In preparation for the potential amendment, Horrocks and her children have been researching at the Oakley library how to care for chickens and how to prepare a coop for them.
Horrocks read a letter to the council on behalf of her 11-year-old daughter, who was too shy to speak, giving the council other things to consider during the April 12 public hearing.
“I do not want to breed chickens, and I’m not getting a rooster,” Horrocks read. “Chickens are in a way similar to dogs and cats. They’re easy to clean up after, friendly and, all in all, a good pet, but chickens are good in other ways too.” Unlike dogs and cats, Horrocks read, chickens lay eggs, they are a natural form of pest control, and their waste can be used as fertilizer. It’s more than a family pet – it’s an environmentally friendly “money saver.”
Mayor Jim Frazier apologized for the inconvenience of the hearing postponement and thanked the speakers for their thoughts and encouraged them to attend the April 12 meeting if possible. For more information about the proposed ordinance, call 925-625-7000.