A start-up group is looking to ruffle feathers to get Bountiful city leaders to re-evaluate a city ordinance that effectively prohibits chickens in the city.
Bountiful resident Michael Peay says he’s owned backyard chickens for over two years and has never heard a word of complaint until this past spring when he accidentally bought a couple roosters. The neighbors heard enough of the roosters that they in turn crowed to the city about the nuisance. In contesting a citation, Peay soon discovered that an ordinance he thought allowed chickens in the city actually did not—restricting them to properties that sought a zoning change and had at least one acre of property to accommodate the chickens.
“I got rid of the roosters,” Peay says. “They really were terrible; I was ready to go out and shoot them myself.” But he says his hens, however, cause no more of a nuisance than a dog or cat.
“Five or six hens are less noisy than one backyard dog, and produce less poop,” Peay says. “I just compost my chicken droppings and it goes back to my garden -- dog poop goes into the trash.”
Peay realized that the Bountiful ordinance was not crystal clear to residents who may own backyard chickens, and since his encounter with the city has been organizing a group to recommend a revamped urban-chicken ordinance. He says the following of affected citizens is small, but believes that if the ordinance is re-written it will help others embrace owning chickens in their backyard -- a practice he says that allows citizens access to a cheap, healthy and environmentally friendly food source.
But currently only the Val Verda neighborhood of Bountiful is zoned for chickens, and there the lots have to be at least an acre to accommodate the fowl. Bountiful City Councilwoman Beth Holbrook says she has been in contact with Peay and is looking for time to study the issue further before she makes a decision. “Nuisance is probably the key element in anything dealing with [animals],” Holbrooke says. “Whether it's chickens or anything else, no doubt you have potential smells, noise issues, predators … those are obviously the concerns.”
Peay hopes that urban-chicken aficionados, as well as those interested in the local-food movement, will flock together in support of rewriting the city’s ordinance similar to other chicken-friendly municipalities along the Wasatch Front like Salt Lake City and West Jordan. “I think most other municipalities allow backyard chickens,” Peay says. “[Bountiful City] are just being snobs.”