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Council delays vote, will incubate backyard chicken decision

Published March 25, 2014 9:34 pm

Ordinance scheduled for a vote on April 15 to allow city time to incubate measure.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

West Valley City • City Council members decided Tuesday to postpone a vote until April 15 on an ordinance that would allow hens in residential backyards so they could tweak the measure.

The decision came after the council heard comments from about 20 speakers, both pro and con.

The ordinance would classify female chickens as pets and allow up to four per household in a residential zone. Currently, chickens are allowed only in agricultural areas.

Opponents of the change objected to the smell and noise of chickens.

"I live in a city, not on a farm," Gloria vanSoolen said.

Irene Jensen said she could not enjoy being in her backyard because a neighbor's chickens smelled so bad and attracted bugs. Mike Markham said chickens do not belong in urban areas.

"If people want chickens, there are places zoned for chickens," he said. "I don't think we need chickens in the city."

Proponents of the proposal said backyard chickens help stretch food budgets, provide better eggs than store-bought ones and produce manure that help gardens grow. They also disputed the complaint that hens produce a bad odor.

"My chickens never created a smell," said Ona Welch, who owned three hens before she learned they weren't allowed in a residential neighborhood.

She added: "I really enjoyed the fresh eggs."

Tanya Gillmore said chickens are affectionate pets and great for 4-H projects.

"They're not going to be any louder, the clucking hens, than a barking dog," she said.

City staffers and the Planning Commission have recommended against allowing chickens in residential neighborhoods. A city report says animal control officers already get about 15 to 20 calls each week complaining about the noise and smells from chickens or alleging that a resident is running an egg-selling business.

pmanson@sltrib.com