Glenwood to draft code provisions allowing chickens |

Glenwood to draft code provisions allowing chickens

John Stroud
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A group of residents seeking the OK to allow backyard chicken coops in Glenwood Springs won initial support from City Council members last week.

Council voted 6-1 at its March 1 meeting to have city staff draft an ordinance spelling out the rules and regulations for chickens to be kept in residential neighborhoods.

Since it’s a land-use matter, the chicken ordinance will have to go through the city Planning and Zoning Commission for a recommendation. The ordinance would then come back before City Council for final consideration.

Among the rules proposed by the newly formed Glenwood Springs Poultry Club for allowing chickens to be kept by city residents:

• No more than six hens allowed

• No roosters

• Hens must be kept in contained coops

• Provisions to control odors

• Predator controls

The allowance for chicken-keeping would mostly apply to the older parts of town. Homeowners associations in residential subdivisions would still be able to enforce any rules they may have regarding farm animals.

“I’m confident we will be 100 percent in compliance,” said Jennifer Vanian, who already keeps backyard chickens at her east Glenwood Springs residence and is seeking to allow herself and others to do so legally.

She suggested a one-year review after the ordinance is in place to address any other concerns at that point.

More than two dozen people showed up at the council meeting in support of allowing chickens, many carrying small signs with a picture of hens.

After initially bringing the issue before the City Council last summer, Vanian and Jill McAlice of New Castle organized three classes to educate people about backyard chicken keeping. Vanian said the sessions were well-attended, indicating the growing interest in the opportunity.

Glenwood Springs resident Gay Moore said a lot of people want to grow and produce their own food.

“This is a movement that has gained momentum just in the last couple of years,” Moore said. “It’s time to be as local and sustainable as we can, and backyard chickens are a way to do that.”

Added John Trowbridge of Glenwood Springs, “It’s also a great way for kids to see where their food comes from.

“Chickens are also fun and educational pets, and there’s an economic benefit in bringing revenue to hardware and garden stores,” he added.

Trowbridge noted that the town of Basalt recently agreed to allow backyard chickens, and towns all across the country are doing the same.

The local Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer, Dan Cacho, raised the agency’s concerns about chickens potentially spreading diseases to wild bird populations.

“I believe that can be reduced by having the chickens contained in secure coops,” he said.

Chickens could also serve as another attraction for bears to come into town, Cacho said. In addition to keeping the birds contained, he would also like to see a requirement for an electric fence on the coops.

“It sounds like the group has a great proposal, but I do still have concerns about enforcement,” he said.

Council members said enforcement would be complaint-driven, just as any other ordinance dealing with residential zone districts.

“This is not a foolish idea, but the question is how we maintain civility between neighbors,” Councilman Dave Sturges said. “I don’t want the city to get into trying to police issues between neighbors.”

Councilman Leo McKinney cast the lone vote against drafting the chicken ordinance, after expressing concerns about the potential for attracting predators.

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