No rooster ban in backyards-for now

Urban chicken owner speaks against rooster ban

DES MOINES, Iowa - Rooster raisers...and rooster haters. were speaking out Monday at the Des Moines city council meeting.

The City Council was asked to give final approval to an ordinance that would ban backyard roosters in the city.  It also would increase the number of chickens allowed, from 25 to 30.  But it also would mandate a 25 foot separation between chicken coops and the home next door.  The new rules would also require the chickens to be kept in enclosed "shelters" and the shelters be kept in a sanitary condtion.

Council members heard from Martha Swanson and Monica Gray.  The two women live nearby an urban chicken coop with a loud rooster.  Martha Swanson told the council the rooster crows "all day".  Gray told them that rooster crows "incessantly, constantly, continually," with Gray saying she cannot enjoy her backyard because of it.

Tonya Keith has a few roosters and says she's tried to abide with all of the city regulations so far.  She told the council that if they gave final approval to the ordinance "it makes me breaking the law...immediately".  Others asked the council to take the full three readings on the issue to give time to flesh out a better ordinance.

Councilman Chris Coleman told the audience he might favor tougher laws.  He says the rules should only allow urban chickens if the person who has the fowl also owns the house.  Councilwoman Linda Westergard says she's gotten complaints for some time.  She says she could never support an ordinance that doesn't ban roosters. 

On a more conciliatory note, Councilman Josh Mandelbaum said he thinks the 25 foot setback is too restrictive and he'd like to see that changed.  While colleague Bill Gray says keeping urban chickens in the backyard "is messy" and that he would "want to make sure neighbors are protected."

Councilwoman Connie Boesen also pointed out that Des Moines has the most liberal urban chicken ordinance when compared to its neighbors.  

The city council didn't approve the new rules.  Instead they sent the issue back to the city manager, ordering him to set up a council workshop so all affected parties could participate and help craft a better ordinance.

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