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Photo by Anne Medley.

Urban Chicken Ordinance Passes Committee, Heads to Council

Missoula City Council’s Public Safety and Health committee Wednesday morning approved the urban chicken ordinance, including an amendment to require annual $15 permits, sending the contentious proposal to the Council floor for a final vote Monday evening.

The vote went 5 to 4, with Dave Strohmaier, Stacy Rye, Bob Jaffe, Heidi Kendall and Jerry Ballas all in favor.

If passed by the Council Monday, the ordinance would allow Missoulians to keep as many as six female chickens on their property, subject to certain standards and conditions (opens PDF).

The proposal was approved after Councilman Jon Wilkins proposed adding another amendment to the ordinance requiring Missoulians who want to raise chickens to receive permission from all immediate neighbors first. “I think it’s important to keep good neighbors,” he said.

But that motion failed by the same 5 to 4 vote. “I appreciate John’s effort,” Kendall said, “but I would oppose the amendment because there is no similar requirement for dogs” and other pets, which pose the same allergy problems that opponents of the chicken ordinance claim of chickens.

Leigh Radlowski of East Missoula, a proponent of urban chickens, stood and made the point that requiring the permission of neighbors and the associated paperwork and management would just create another headache. “You’re actually greatly increasing the financial obligations of the city.”

City Council will meet and vote Monday, Dec. 17 at the Council Chambers on Spruce Street at 7:00 p.m.

(Not sure what this chicken thing is all about? Click here to get up to speed.)

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  1. urban (fowl) guerrilla

    Just in case anyone missed the link above, here is the text of the change proposed to the ordinance (the part about the annual fees has yet to be added); the rest of the ordinance is at the link.

    Please read it all before you comment on what the ordinance lacks, then direct any comments/concerns to either the city attorney Jim Nugent, or your ward council person, they can fill you in on the rest.

    F. The prohibition to keeping chickens in this section does not apply to the keeping of up to 6 female chickens while the animals are kept in such a manner that the following standards are complied with:
    1. The chickens must be kept on a single-family parcel(s), and chickens may be kept on a parcel(s) under one ownership with more than one dwelling if all residents and the owner consent in writing to allowing the chickens on the property. When chickens are kept on a multi-dwelling parcel(s) the owner of the chickens shall keep a copy of the signed approval document for inspection upon request by animal control personnel.
    2. The chickens shall be provided with a covered, predator-proof chicken house that is thoroughly ventilated, of sufficient size to admit free movement of the chickens, designed to be easily accessed, cleaned and maintained by the owners and be at least 2 square feet per chicken in size.
    3. No chicken house shall be located closer than 20 feet to any residential structure occupied by someone other than the chicken owner, custodian, or keeper.
    4. The chickens shall be shut into the chicken house at night, from sunset to sunrise.
    5. During daylight hours the adult chickens shall have access to the chicken house and, weather permitting, shall have access to an outdoor enclosure on the subject property, adequately fenced to contain the chickens and to prevent access to the chickens by dogs and other predators.
    6. Stored feed must be kept in a rodent- and predator-proof container
    7. It is unlawful for the owner, custodian, or keeper of any chicken to allow the animal(s) to be a nuisance to any neighbors, including but not limited to: noxious odors from the animals or their enclosure; and noise of a loud and persistent and habitual nature. Animal Control will determine whether or not a nuisance exists on a case-by-case basis.
    8. Enforcement Upon receiving a complaint of a possible violation Animal Control will investigate, determine if a violation exists and when appropriate leave a notice of violation and order to take corrective action with the owner, custodian, or keeper and provide them with written notice of the violations that require correction. Animal Control will revisit the owner’s address 10 days or more after the notice of violation is issued. If the owner, custodian, or keeper has failed to comply with the ordinance, Animal Control may issue a citation to the owner, custodian or keeper for failure to comply with any applicable requirement of this section.

    Section 3
    6.012.022 Notice of Violation and Order To Take Corrective Action. When Animal Control determines that a violation of the code has occurred, Animal Control may issue written notice to the owner, custodian or keeper, either personally or by certified mail. Such notice shall specify the provision or provisions of this chapter alleged to have been violated along with a short and plain statement of the facts that constitute the violation. The notice shall include an “order to take corrective action” requiring compliance within a reasonable time as stated in the order.

    Section 4
    6.012.024 Penalty–Fines. The City of Missoula Municipal Court judge shall assess animal violation fines as set forth in this chapter. An owner, custodian, or keeper of an animal who is found guilty of any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and fined an amount not less than twenty-five dollars or more than five hundred dollars. Failure to comply with a properly issued Notice of Violation and Order to Take Corrective Action shall be counted as a separate offense from a citation issued after the compliance date described in the order. Each day an offense exists shall constitute a separate offense pursuant to this chapter.

  2. Pro poultry lobbyist

    I’m glad this passed out of committee. The only thing that is a bigger waste of time/money than spending time writing an ordinance, getting public opinion, revising the ordinance, having committee meetings, and then voting on it… is to go through that whole process and then NOT vote on it.

    I applaud the council members for wanting to get this over with. Noone in Missoula benefits from dragging it out further, and I think most people agree that any decision is better than no decision.

    Besides- the basic elements to this ordinance are clear. If you want to keep six chickens responsibly, fine. If you don’t, you’ll pay- like anyone else that breaks the law. Simple as that. So vote on it and get ‘er done.