Letter to the Editor
May 27, 2012, 8:35 PM
Filed under: Backyard Chickens, Local Food, Resilience

A little chicken humor…

along with a serious topic…

May 27, 2012

Dear Editor:

Once again, I am writing to you on behalf of the local C.O.O.P. (Chickens On Our Property) group. Since we began working last summer to try to get the Johnson City zoning codes rewritten to align with the current city code (which is the overriding factor in this situation), our group has collected over 500 signatures from city residents that would like to have the right to own a small flock of backyard hens. We’ve made countless phone calls, written numerous emails and postcards, and spent many hours researching our city’s code, as well as those of other towns and cities that already allow backyard hens across the United States. (Did you know that residents of New York City, Seattle, Portland, Detroit, Asheville, Bristol, Kingsport and Jonesborough, along with Las Vegas, Chicago, Knoxville, Nashville and many others are allowed to have their own flocks?) We’ve conducted two free Urban Henkeeping classes and have met personally with each and every council member (except Vice Mayor Phil Carriger) although we are still hopeful that we will get the chance to do so before the next meeting.

After doing our homework and research we finally felt confident enough in January to ask to be put on the agenda for the council’s bimonthly meeting, at which time we made our proposal to them to allow city residents to have a maximum of 6 hens, no roosters, and with the stipulation that the birds must be confined to a fenced area. At that first meeting, the zoning commissioner was instructed to craft changes to the zoning regulations that would resolve the ‘internal conflict’ between the codes. Fast forward to the February council meeting where the vote on the proposed changes was deferred. Fast forward to the May council meeting where the vote on the proposed changes was deferred again. I daresay we might still be debating the zoning issues of the right to keep chickens in our residential neighborhoods while many folks go hungry.

C.O.O.P. members feel strongly that our rights as taxpayers are being ignored. Our proposal would provide our families with quiet pets and an inexpensive source of protein in our diets, as well as add value to our garden soils while avoiding the energy usage and carbon emissions typically associated with transporting food or fertilizers. It would ultimately result in the residents of our city being more self-sufficient and resilient in these uncertain times. What, may I ask, is so wrong with that?

I have recently sold my home in the county (where I’ve kept chickens for many years) and have purchased a home in Johnson City. I hope to be ‘allowed’ to bring my pets with me when I move next month. My soon-to-be-neighbors have already expressed a desire to have me teach them how to take care of some hens of their own. If you would like the right to have hens, please let your council members know!


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Good luck! I’ve also read about cities employing chickens to help reduce garbage costs. They are natural recyclers. In tough economic times where cities are having problems balancing the budget, maybe this type of economic argument might help? Here’s an article: http://blog.mcmurrayhatchery.com/2010/10/18/city-chickens-can-save-big-time-tax-payer-dollars-part-2/

Comment by Bibliopharm

I’m going to spread the word Bibliopharm! Thanks for sharing this with me!

Comment by simpleintn

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