Proposal would allow city chickens
August 17, 2012 · Margaret Stevens
City of Mount Vernon leaders are looking at adding chickens as an animal allowed in the city.
The city council will hold a public hearing on the issue at its meeting this coming Monday. The meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.
The proposed ordinance would allow residents to keep up to four chickens; roosters would not be allowed. The hens must be confined to a fenced pen area or in a coop or fowl house that is at least 18 inches tall. The structure must be 25 feet from any property line and have an area of at least four square feet and no more than 12 square feet per chicken.
Coops must be cleaned daily and all droppings placed in a fly-proof container or double-bagged in plastic, or used as fertilizer on the owners' property with it being incorporated into the soil within 24 hours.
The pen must be designed to prevent entry by dogs, cats or other animals, and the city would not be liable for injury or death caused by other animals, whether licensed by the city or not. Killing or injuring a chicken would not, in and of itself, be grounds for declaring an animal vicious and thus cause for removal from city limits.
The City of Palo (population 1,029) has had a similar ordinance in place for more than a year. Trent Miller, a member of the Palo City Council, said the ordinance has worked well in his town. He said he's only aware of one incident requiring city intervention, when a resident was keeping a rooster. A city enforcement official met with the resident, explained roosters aren't allowed, and the resident removed the bird.
Miller said that the issue got a lot of discussion at council meetings before the ordinance passed, and concerns were raised about chickens running wild on the streets, attracting wild animals or being too noisy.
"There hasn't been a problem except for that one incident," he said.
Palo doesn't require a permit or registration. There are no provisions in the Mount Vernon ordinance requiring permits.
In an interview, Mount Vernon city council member Steve Maurice indicated he was in favor of allowing chickens, saying that some residents are already raising chickens.