Weatherford Democrat

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July 12, 2013

Council vote bans chickens in city limits

By BRIAN SMITH

After months of discussion, an ordinance allowing chickens inside city limits was voted down Tuesday night by the Weatherford city council in a 2-3 vote.

The council had been studying the issue since February. Under the proposal, chickens, not roosters, would be allowed under certain restrictions. Residents had approached city officials earlier this year about allowing chickens back into the city once the animals began being sold again at the First Monday trade event.

Mayor Pro Tem Craig Swancy and council member Waymon Hamilton were for the proposal, with Hamilton saying that if roosters weren’t allowed in the city, many of the noise and smell complaints would be history.

“We corrected the hen situation at the flea market,” Hamilton said. “We need to do so here.”

Hamilton said students could use the chickens for 4-H projects and fresh eggs. Swancy contended there may be 100 people in the city that this new ordinance would affect, because of the restrictions not allowing coops to be within 50 feet of an inhabitable dwelling. Council members Heidi Wilder and Jeff Robinson spoke against the ordinance, with Robinson saying it is difficult to tell the sex of a baby chick and many times the chicken ends up being a rooster. Robinson said enforcing the new ordinance would be difficult.

“This may end up being another animal that would have to be dealt with in the shelter, and they already have enough to contend with,” Robinson said.

Mayor Dennis Hooks also had concerns with the enforcement of the new ordinance, saying there are people with chickens in the city presently.

“We’re not enforcing it (the ordinance) right now,” Hooks said. “Are we going to be enforcing it tomorrow?”

City Manager Jerry Blaisdell said it’s a unique enforcement issue concerning the chickens that are in the city. He said if the city gets a call on the issue, it gets checked out.

“It’s not the lack, but the simple difficulty of enforcing it,” Blaisdell said.

Residents on both sides of the issue spoke to the council before the vote was cast. Regina Edwards questioned not allowing the chickens and wondered what would be next.

Bobbie Narramore said she didn’t have a problem with the chickens but said she could hear them crowing at times, which could be irritating.

Wilder, Robinson and Hooks voted against.

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