'Fowl' Issue Ruffles Feathers in Council
By Caitlin Davis
Jul 13, 2012, 09:55
HOPEWELL - Chickens in the city was one of the subjects at the City Council works session on June 26.
Councilor Michael Bujakowski said he has been getting numerous phone calls and emails regarding chickens running loose in Ward 3 and Ward 5.
"I recommend we set up a boundary of some number of yards," Bujakowski said.
Bujakowski also recommended limiting the number of chickens one residence can possess to no more than six hens. He said six hens will produce at least two dozen eggs a week.
Councilor Gerald Stokes recommended requiring that a resident get a conditional permit with neighbors before acquiring chickens.
"I think neighbors should agree," Stokes said. "Some want chickens, but don't want them next door to them."
Two of Hopewell's surrounding localities have addressed the issue. Colonial Heights does not allow fowl unless permission has been granted by the city and no more than three hens are allowed at a time. In Petersburg, fowl must be kept at least 30 feet from a structure used for human habitation.
After the meeting, Bujakowski explained the fowl matter in the city. He said many residents in his ward have approached him about chickens. The matter was brought to his attention in September, 2011.
"They told me there's a value of this that you need to see," he said.
He said there are a significant number of people in the city who have chickens, or have considered getting chickens.
"They want to raise their own eggs to help out with food costs," Bujakowski explained. "It's a cost thing."
Currently, the city is trying to strike a balance between those who want chickens and those who do not want chickens anywhere near their property.
"It is tough in a city," Bujakowski said.
As for some of the suggestions given at the council work session, Bujakowski does not agree with neighbors trying to come to an agreement on chickens.
"To me, it leads to potential discord in the neighborhood," Bujakowski said.
One chicken problem did work itself out peacefully in Hopewell.
Bobby Pershing, Pool Manager at Wood-Dale Swim Club, had an issue with the chickens on a nearby property. He said the birds got loose and entered his yard, running near the pool.
"[My neighbor] had to come over with chicken feed in hand to persuade them to come back home," Pershing said.
Pershing said the matter was resolved by the city's Animal Services Unit. Pershing said the pool's board had asked him to call animal control to take care of the situation.
"Since animal control has come by, I haven't seen or heard any chickens," Pershing said.
Pershing said his primary concerns regarding chickens were safety and cleanliness.
"We have small children here and they are attracted to something small like chickens, they could approach them...there's also a risk of chickens pecking and biting," Pershing said."As I understand it, they are not the cleanest animals in the world."
While Pershing does not want any "fowl" play occurring near the pool, he does want to be a good neighbor.
"We try to be a good neighbor, you never know who's here, who's not here" Pershing said.
Currently, the city code does not an ordinance specifically written for fowl. As Pershing understands the rules, there is one that applies to all animals.
"Of a farm animal or any other animal in Hopewell, it has to be contained on your property," Pershing said.
Council requested that City Manager Ed Daley draft an ordinance for chickens, including appropriate distances of chicken coops from existing structures and determining if fowl should be even be allowed in the city.
Currently, the city is writing the ordinance to include boundary requirements, limits on the number of hens, the prohibition of roosters, and requirements to establish the necessary distance between fowl inhabitants and a residence.
A draft of the ordinance will be available for council to review at the July 10 meeting.