Thursday, August 27, 2009

Chickens may come to roost in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City

Posted on Aug 20, 2009 by Cindy Hadish.
Several Rhode Island Red chickens forage Aug. 14 in the yard of Kate and state Sen. Rob Hogg at their home in Cedar Rapids. The chickens are allowed because the property was zoned agricultural. Cedar Rapids and Iowa City groups are proposing ordinances to allow any homeowner to keep chickens within city limits. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
A movement in Iowa City and Cedar Rapids to legalize backyard chickens is taking wing.
Buoyed by the growing popularity of home gardening and local foods, advocates see raising chickens for fresh eggs as a natural progression in the move toward sustainability.

“That’s a huge part of our lives,” Rachel Morey, 34, said of the garden her family tends at their southeast Cedar Rapids home. “Adding chickens to the mix seems like the natural thing to do.”
Morey belongs to a fledgling Cedar Rapids movement called Citizens for Legalization of Urban Chickens, or CLUC, a relatively new group with about 35 members.

They have been in contact with the city zoning department and spoke informally to City Council members. Nothing official has been proposed. Their goal is to have an ordinance change by spring.

Iowa City’s IC Friends of Urban Chickens already has made progress, said Stacey Driscoll, one of the group’s organizers.

Driscoll noted that a petition with 676 signatures was presented to the City Council this summer. The topic will be discussed by the council at a Sept. 14 work session.

Legalization of urban chickens will be discussed by the Iowa City Council during a work session at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at City Hall, 410 E. Washington St.On the Net — IC Friends of Urban Chickens: information about CLUC in Cedar Rapids, e-mail Rachel Morey at:
As it stands, chickens are considered livestock and cannot be kept within city limits unless a property is zoned agricultural.

Misha Goodman, Iowa City Animal Services director, said proposed revisions would likely limit the number of chickens to five, with no roosters.
Coop requirements, including distance from neighbors’ homes, and licensing also will be considered.

Goodman, who admits to liking chickens but isn’t taking a position on the issue, said she has heard from both sides.
Opponents worry about noise, smell, rodents and chickens on the loose.
“I personally don’t think they’d be any louder than the average dog,” Goodman said.
Sanitation is a concern with any pet, she noted, and an ordinance exists that regulates animals running at large.

Iowa’s largest city already allows backyard chickens. Des Moines residents can have two poultry or fowl, which must be kept in a pen or coop at least 25 feet from a neighboring dwelling. The city also allows up to three potbellied pigs and three pygmy goats.Brendan Owens, 35, a member of the Cedar Rapids group, would like to keep a few chickens at his home.

“I just always had an interest in chickens,” he said. “For me, it’s more of a recreational thing.”
Owens is hoping the endeavor will become an activity to engage his young children. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three girls, ages 5, 2 and a newborn.
Owens sees a common thread among group members, who have substantial vegetable gardens and are interested in raising their own food.

Members have looked at other cities, such as Madison, Wis., New York and Seattle, which allow backyard chickens. In general, complaints are about roosters, which have a habit of crowing early in the morning.
Different breeds of chickens produce different colored eggs in the henhouse of Kate and state Sen. Rob Hogg in Cedar Rapids. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

“We don’t have any interest at all in getting roosters,” Owens said.
Their proposal, he said, will likely set a maximum of six chickens, no roosters, and would provide for licensing.

Kate Hogg raises about 60 chickens on the Cedar Rapids acreage she shares with her husband, state Sen. Rob Hogg. Chickens are allowed because the property was zoned agricultural.
She noted that chickens eat weeds and bugs, and free-range chicken eggs are said to have a higher nutrient content than store-bought eggs.
Urban chickens are not kept in the type of coop that she has, Hogg said. Small versions on wheels are available that can be moved where needed.
CLUC’s Morey cited an additional benefit for gardeners: Chicken manure is high in nitrogen and a great compost addition.

Chickens can eat vegetable scraps and generally lay one egg per day.

“It seems like a slick recycling method,” Morey said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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