Weatherford Democrat

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June 13, 2013

Council pecks away at chicken bill

Officials unable to scratch out decision on allowing chickens be kept in the city

By BRIAN SMITH

The chicken battle continues.

Weatherford city council members again delayed a decision on whether or not to allow chickens inside the city limits during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Resident Kathlynn Lyon, who had spent the last two months gathering signatures on a petition to show support for the measure, brought the petitions back last week with 471 signatures, nine more than she was required to bring, according to City Secretary Malinda Nowell.

Nowell said in the process of verifying the signatures to ensure all who signed were registered voters and lived in the city, which are requirements for petition signatures to be valid, she began noticing that some of the signatures were invalid after checking with the county elections department.

“On just the first few pages of the petition, I ran across 25 signatures that did not meet the requirements,” Nowell said.

Because of that, and the maximum 60-day timeframe needed to obtain the signatures having passed, it was determined Lyon had fallen short. The council respected Lyon’s time and effort in the gathering of petitions, Lyon herself noting that she used a cane to go door to door to get the signatures.

Council member Waymon Hamilton asked if everyone that signed knew of the requirements and Lyon said she was sure that she had informed everyone.

“Some of the first signatures came at First Monday and the people there may not have understood they had to be registered voters or have lived in the county,” Lyon said. “If enthusiasm means anything, the signers were enthusiastic.”

Lyon said chickens were allowed within the city prior to 2006. City Manager Jerry Blaisdell said a change in the animal control ordinance in February 2007 forced the removal of chickens from residential zones because of noise and sanitation issues.

Blaisdell said allowing chickens to be sold at First Monday again in the last couple of years coincided with the effort to allow chickens back within the city limits.

The council opted to bring the issue back in a month for a decision. Lyon was told she could try and gather more signatures with another petition, forcing her to start from scratch, but she said she was unsure if she would be physically able to do it again.

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