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Committee approves hearing for fowl within city limits

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Roswell City Council’s Legal Committee voted to approve a notice of a public hearing for changes to be made on a proposed ordinance to allow poultry to be kept within city limits.

City Attorney Aaron Holloman said that this item went before the council in April of last year and was not approved. Holloman explained the new section would allow a citizen on any lot within city limits to have at least four birds, a larger lot could have 10, and 1 acre or larger could have 25 various species of fowl.

As written in the abstract of the meeting’s agenda, acceptable poultry includes “chickens, turkeys, pheasants, ducks and pigeons whether kept for use or pleasure.” Some of the councilors voiced concerns about pheasants and decided to take pheasants off the list once they voted. Holloman said this list left after council made amendments last year to take out guinea fowl and geese, which were previously included.

Councilors Judy Stubbs, Savino Sanchez, Barry Foster and George Peterson were present for the committee meeting on Thursday night. Before the vote, the councilors agreed on striking out pheasants, adding numbers to the pigeons and unifying the language to say the fowl will be appropriately housed 10 feet from any lot line and any other structure.

Peterson, who said he raised pigeons in his youth, made an amendment to add up to 10 pigeons per lot in city limits, up to 20 pigeons per four-tenths of an acre lot and up to 25 pigeons for 1 acre lots. He explained he included male and female pigeons because male pigeons would not disrupt the peace as roosters would.

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Foster made the motion with Peterson’s amendments and Peterson seconded the motion. The final vote was 3 to 1. Councilor Sanchez cast the opposing vote on Thursday.

“I don’t know if any of you would like for someone to have chickens as their neighbors,” Sanchez said. “You can say upkeep will be good, but it just doesn’t happen all the time. Being around chickens — they smell. You can pick up the smell on those chickens, too, so — for me, it’s just no.”

Councilor Foster emphasized the section of the proposed ordinance requires the poultry will be confined and enclosed securely in appropriate outdoor housing.

As for the origination of this request, Councilor Foster said he had numerous constituents voice their desires of raising fowl within city limits. Foster said to some this might appear to be a move backward, but he argued the grassroots movement to know where one’s food comes from is gaining traction.

Councilor Peterson asked if code enforcement would be called if someone does not pick up after their animals, which Holloman confirmed.

According to the meeting’s agenda, having egg-laying fowl within the city limits is prohibited, but amending the city code could allow keeping a few female fowls “subject to certain conditions related to cleanliness and safety.”

The agenda also stated the limit of fowl is based on the sizes of the lots for the drafted ordinance, however, other sections of city code will be utilized if there are any instances of animal cruelty or animal nuisance. For neglect, Peterson asked if it should be reported to code enforcement if someone notices the smell and Holloman confirmed this.

City/RISD reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at reporter04@rdrnews.com.