Monday, August 30, 2010

Update on hens in the city, not legal yet

My daughter with a miniature rooster at Grandma's.

My enthusiasm about hens in Knoxville has declined tremendously. I am concerned about several things:

--there will probably be unreasonable fees/roadblocks to acquire hens
--officials will likely be able to seize hens for frivolous reasons (as well as for serious reasons, which is OK)
--fees for not having hens registered properly, etc could be outrageous

I am disappointed. I remain very much in favor of hens in the city, but I no longer feel I would recommend hens under the above conditions.

In fact, after seeing where this ordinance was headed, I sent my own hens to live with grandma in Corryton.

As an example, let's say there's a case of bird flu in Memphis. What if officials here decide that's reason enough to come seize your hens? Not hens four doors down (across the county line), only your registered hens, which you paid unreasonably high annual fees just to have. No way I'd want that to happen to my girls.

Group of hens relaxing at Grandma's
I truly believe that only a handful of individuals want hens as pets, and that those owners would be responsible, caring hen owners.

Here's where things currently stand:

On a 5-3 vote, Knoxville City Council last week amended the animal control ordinance to regulate the keeping of female chickens in back yards, but hens are not yet legal because the zoning code currently prohibits farm animals within city limits.

The next step is to alter the zoning code to permit hens in residential zoning districts. Zoning code changes must originate with the Metropolitan Planning Commission, whose staff is expected to make recommendations on whether hens should be made legal in all or just some residential zones, and
whether they are permitted as a use-by-right or only with a use-on-review.

Once acted on by MPC, any proposed change or addition to the zoning code must then by approved by City Council in two separate readings.

1 comment:

Gabrielle said...

I am so glad you wrote this post because I've been feeling the same way. I think I read that there is going to be a $75 ANNUAL fee!?? That is just crazy and prevents people who could really use the chickens in their yards from having them! I could wrap my head around a $50 building permit because it was a one time fee, but with such a high annual fee, it seems out of reach. Not only that but you still have to pay for the purchase of the hens and their upkeep and feed. Most people will look at the fact that a dozen eggs at the store cost $1 and multiply that by 52 weeks in the year. Granted fresh eggs are far superior nutritionally and taste wise, but if you just look at the finances, there isn't much of an incentive.

I can't complain too much because other than supporting the vote, I didn't do much in way of activism. I think that Chad did a great job of bringing this through the proper channels. Unfortunately he was up against some pretty strong opinionated opposition.