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Backyard chicken advocates still have no ordinance in Edmond

EDMOND — A crusade to allow chickens in Edmond backyards continues after city staff was ordered to keep working on a proposed ordinance that might please council members and the hundreds of supporters campaigning for urban chickens.

March 27 is the next time the council will consider a revised ordinance to allow urban chickens.

The council this week considered an ordinance that would allow eight chickens on lots in excess of 30,000 square feet. It also calls for a maximum of a dozen birds on a lot in excess of one acre. No roosters are allowed.

Members of Edmond Urban Chickens, a group with around 750 members, have circulated petitions and gained 794 signatures in favor of backyard chickens. They first came to the council in September seeking to change the city ordinance.

They want chickens on smaller, 6,000-square-foot lots.

"This is frustrating," said advocate Fran Stout. "It's just chickens.

"With the 30,000-square-foot lots, that will exclude 90 percent of our group."

Advocate Bethany Hutton said supporters have addressed all of the council's concerns.

"We will keep trying, I guess, until all 750 of us move away," Hutton said. "The medium age in Edmond is 32.4."

Hutton accused council members of being older and not current with the times.

"We have tried to do this the right way," Stout said. "We have a network to educate. We are willing to band together."

"We are trying to do everything above board," Hutton said.

More than 20 people, many in green support T-shirts and one woman wearing a costume resembling a fried egg, attended in support of urban backyard chickens.

Two people spoke against the proposal.

The current city ordinance allows chickens only on property that is zoned agricultural with a minimum lot size of five acres.

Mayor Charles Lamb asked City Attorney Steve Murdock to take another look at the number of chickens on lots in excess of one acre and what type of screening would be necessary.

The possibility of issuing permits to people who have chickens was suggested.

The city's animal welfare officers would be responsible for handling violations such as noise, odor or possession of too many birds.

Officer Cari Drake, with Edmond Animal Services, told how they handle complaints.

"If we receive multiple complaints and we are having to respond to the same property several times, then we would pursue citations," Drake said. "Noise complaints are handled a little bit differently.

"If it is a first-time offense, we will just call or contact the owner and let them know there has been a complaint. We will ask them to work on it.

"Obviously, we can't put a bark collar on a chicken."

Diana Baldwin

Diana Baldwin has been an Oklahoma journalist since 1976. She covered the Oklahoma City bombing and covered the downfall of Oklahoma City police forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist misidentifying evidence. She wrote the original stories about the... Read more ›