Neighbors cluck over Gypsum’s backyard chickens
September 28, 2009
GYPSUM, Colo. – Lydia House is not chicken about standing up for her backyard poultry.
After neighbors complained to the town, House received a letter from Gypsum code enforcement saying she had to get rid of her chickens by Saturday. Having the animals in town violates Gypsum ordinances.
But House has contacted fellow underground chicken owners in Gypsum, who are banding together to have their voices heard. One underground chicken owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, says there is a group of about 16 people who would fight adamantly to keep their chickens.
“Being able to have chickens is important for modern-day self-sustainability,” House said.
Chicken supporters say backyard chickens are alternatives to pesticides and store-bought fertilizers because they eat bugs and their excrement makes great fertilizer. Enthusiasts also say kids enjoy the chickens and the eggs produced by backyard poultry are delectable.
“My kids adore the chickens, and they learn that eggs don’t come from rectangular Styrofoam containers,” said a Gypsum chicken owner. “And the eggs are fantastic. Light years and beyond better than the eggs you buy in a store.”
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Opponents to backyard coops typically argue chickens attract raccoons, coyotes and other pests and that they create unsanitary conditions.
“Sometimes the chickens cluck early in the morning,” said Anna Sandoval, a backyard neighbor to House.
Livestock was banned from the town of Gypsum in the mid-’90s after neighbors were spitting feathers over backyard chickens. Jeff Shroll, Gypsum town manager, said the town had not sent a chicken eviction letter since that time until it received complaints from House’s neighbors.
Shroll also said those who want to reverse the town ordinance banning livestock are welcome to petition the Town Council.
“We are a government for the people, by the people,” he said.
Lana Gallegos, Gypsum town planner, added that people living in single-family medium density, low density or rural areas of Gypsum can apply for a special-use permit to have livestock. These areas include residences not located on Second Street and surrounding streets, Eagle River Estates and First Street.
Chicken husbandry is legal in Eagle. New York City, Oakland, San Francisco, Houston, Chicago, Seattle and Portland are also chicken friendly.