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The Night The Chickens Came Home To Roost


August 29, 2019

Tuesday, Sept. 3, could be the night the chickens come home to roost in Pottawatomie County.

Two cities, Shawnee and Tecumseh, will decide whether to allow urban chickens in their communities at meetings that night.

In Shawnee, the City Commission is being lobbied heavily by the Blue Zones Project and others interested in healthier foods to approve an ordinance which would allow up to six chickens — no roosters! — in residential areas meeting certain requirements.

Commissioners will vote on an ordinance that will allow up to six chickens “in areas zoned for residential use (RE (Residential Estates District), R-1 (Single-Family Residential District), R-2 (Medium Density Residential District), R-3 (Multi-Family Residential District) and TN (Townhouse Development District).”

Blue Zones folks say backyard chickens are important because they provide “food security for families living in food deserts,” teach “responsibility, empathy and food education,” lay healthier eggs than those sold in stores, give gardeners high-quality fertilizer and control flies and other pests.

Supporter Holly Gordon told the commission last month that the planning commission approved the request and that the police department has no issues with proper enforcement.

In Tecumseh, the City Council will be revisiting an issue that came up five years ago, when they voted 3-2 against a proposed ordinance to allow chickens. The vote came after months of discussion.

“We allowed chickens until 2012 when we revised the code book,” said Vice Mayor Linda Praytor. “No one ever complained. People proved they could take care of them.” Mayor Eddy Parker voted with her, but the other three council members voted no.

“I think we’re going backwards if we change it,” Ward 4 Council Member and former Mayor John Collier said at the time. “It’s a slap in the face of trying to clean the city up. I love chickens, but not in residential areas.” He said it would result in “all kinds of disputes.”

Tecumseh’s ordinance would allow up to four chickens (no roosters) on residential lots of at least 21.780 square feet (half an acre), as long as coops were at least 25 feet from the nearest residence or the street. A permit would be required, and the city would have the right to inspect them.

The chickens would be allowed only in areas zoned agricultural or R1. Roosters would be allowed only in the agricultural areas.


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