Spencer, Iowa is seriously considering adjusting their city ordinances to allow residents to keep chickens in their backyards according to a news article by Hanna Russman in The Spencer Daily Reporter. Donna Goebel who is a resident of Spencer has instigated the possible change of city ordinances on Aug. 18, 2014. She made preparations in advance by contacting various agencies such as Spencer Blue Zones, Spencer Community Gardens, 4-H Club, the Federated Garden Club, local nursing homes and schools, and they are all in favor of changing the cities ordinances to allow backyard chickens. Benefits of raising backyard chickens were suggested as educational tools for schools, clubs, and children as well as a more sustainable lifestyle for residents who wish to grow their own food. Up until this time the city ordinances considered chickens as livestock, animal husbandry and would cost residents $250 dollars to apply for permits to keep them.
"Before going to the council, I looked up the city codes at the local library, but I couldn't find anything specific to allowing backyard chickens," Goebel explained. "I went there to request they consider a special ordinance. I thought this is something we needed because there is an increasing interest in people growing and raising their own foods and sustainable lifestyles.""There is an ordinance that pertains to animal husbandry, but it didn't include chickens or fowl. I was informed at the council meeting that there is, in fact, a special ordinance that allows you to apply for a special permit, but it cost $250 to apply." (Goebel, 2014).
Spencer Planning Director Kirby Schmidt explained current city codes within city limits and pointed out that there would be exceptions to the new ordinance that would allow them in commercial and general districts, fair and exposition district and mobile homes districts. He also explained that chickens, ducks and geese are not allowed to be kept as household pets or as a hobby for local residents at this time but that in order for the city to allow chickens as pets and the city would have to redefine their definition of birds under the animal control ordinance which would then allow chickens, ducks, and geese as pets. He also suggested that the fee be lowered but that the Board of Adjustment would have to consider the permits on an individual basis.
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Reference: Russman, Hanna,(Sept. 1, 2014).City considers urban chickens. The Spencer Daily Reporter.
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