Council considers regulating backyard chickens

Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 11:52pm

The operating budget is in effect, the convention center financing is a few months away and the May Town Center issue has been deferred indefinitely.

Filling the void as a hot button issue on Metro Council — regulating backyard chickens.

Metro Council members are being kept abreast of feedback from residents on a bill that would effectively outlaw chickens, and other farm animals, inside the urban services district.

The USD comprises downtown, East Nashville and all the land within the interstate loop surrounding the city.

“I guess it could have some humor associated with it,” said District 13 Councilman Carl Burch, who supports the backyard chicken ban. “But it’s not funny if you’re the neighbor who’s been adversely affected by someone keeping domesticated farm animals.”

Although the bill — which already passed first reading and will be on public hearing at Council in September — would ban chickens, cows, donkeys, ducks, geese, goat, horses, mules, peafowl, pigs and sheep, its main purpose for updating the zoning code is backyard chickens.

There are two conflicting portions of the Metro code, one which states chickens are banned when they are a nuisance, and a conflicting code which more explicitly prohibits them. Burch said the update would simply help Metro get a leg up in clarifying violations, which the Codes Department has been enforcing for years.

“In order to resolve the issue with the Codes Department and how we’ve normally been enforcing the code, we needed further definition of what domesticated farm animals,” Burch said.

Ironically, earlier this year there was consideration to open up the USD to chicken farming with some regulations as part of a zoning bill that protected community gardens in Davidson County. That bill was sponsored by District 24 Councilman Jason Holleman, who said he wasn’t hesitant to support a ban.

Few residents have cried ‘fowl,’ by in a letter to District 18 Metro Councilwoman Kristine LaLonde, Nashville resident J. Tucker Rojas did explain some of the benefits of backyard chickens.

Rojas said backyard chickens act as a natural insect control, a source of organic fertilizer and an extension of the urban farming movement, among other benefits.

Codes has typically enforced the chicken ban reactively once it receives complaints from neighbors. Earlier this year Burch had such an issue arise in his district and his hope is to avoid similar conflicts in the future.

“The [chicken] itself is not unhealthy, but you can imagine what is going to happen if everybody on your street, if you live in the USD, has chickens, or goats or whatever,” Burch said. “The USD is not cut out to have that type of farm animal on each piece of property.”

The bill would have no effect on properties in rural or agricultural zones.


6 Comments on this post:

By: Blanketnazi2 on 7/16/09 at 8:12

Ban the chickens! If you want farm animals, go live on a farm. If you live in town, be respectful of your neighbors who do not want to live next to that.

By: nnoseworthy on 7/16/09 at 8:57

What about turkeys?

Although that would mean Crafton (and probably several other Council members) would be banned, no?

By: The Blaster on 7/16/09 at 5:42

Really, this is what our City Council needs to be wasting money on? Really, they think this is funny? In this day and time the City Council should be worried about all the stinking Government waste and not wasting our time or more importantly their time working on a bill or code that effects about 10 people a year and only creates more wasteful work for law enforcement.

If people want chickens let them have chickens. The good far out weighs the bad.

By: dogmrb on 7/16/09 at 9:05

But the chickens provide eggs and the answer to the most important question, except the tree falling in the forest with no one around: which came first the chicken or the egg. The urban chicken came first!

By: amymc on 7/20/09 at 1:27

Its an interesting issue because buying a chick is fairly cheap. They are small and you can keep them in a relatively small area. They dont cost anything to feed and live for several years. If you buy three - that may keep your household in eggs for years. Keep that in mind and lets think about families that have trouble coming up with extra dollars a week to buy eggs. Its a great source of protein and healthier than other choices folks are forced to make about food because of their economic situation.

By: J. Schneider on 7/22/09 at 6:21

This comment is absolutely rediculous!!!!!

“The [chicken] itself is not unhealthy, but you can imagine what is going to happen if everybody on your street, if you live in the USD, has chickens, or goats or whatever,” Burch said. “The USD is not cut out to have that type of farm animal on each piece of property.”

Chickens are not unhealthy.... PERIOD... even if everyone in the world have 5 chickens in their backyard! I really don't see why everyone gets in such a tizzy when a neighbor has a backyard flock! There are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about chickens out there that cause chicken owners problems, so here's a little education:

Chickens make excellent pets.... even in the city. They don't take up a lot of room. They DON'T stink if you take care of the properly just like any other pet that people have to be responsible for! The AREN'T loud if you don't have a rooster. Hens are extremely quiet! Much quietier that DOGS! Hens go to sleep when it gets dark so they're NEVER going to wake you up at 2am like your neighbor's barking dog does! My hens follow me around the yard and jump in my lap to be petted just like my dogs do! That's normal for pet hens! We go outside and watch what we call "Chicken TV!" It's the most entertaining thing, much more interesting than the crap that's on TV these days! Many people worry about how they are going to "enforce" good pet ownership from chicken owners.... You do the same thing you do for dog owners, cat owners, hamster owners or any other household pet! I just don't understand all the fuss that is being made over people owning chickens on THEIR OWN PRIVATE PROPERTY!! Chickens are NOT necessarily farm animals, they have been domesticated since 6000BC! Please educate yourself with an open mind before you start making laws to try to ban things that people have a Constitutional RIGHT to!