Wednesday, April 23, 2008

another issue in the urban chicken debate

I came across this letter to the editor on the Packet web site (news for central New Jersey) from Craig D Evans, writing about the Hightstown Borough Council's recent decision to ban urban chickens from Hightstown, NJ (pop ~5300, see on larger map).

Mr. Evans makes a rather interesting point about the economics behind the arbitrary passing of the ordinance to ban chickens, pointing out the years invested in raising backyard flocks as well as the money put into building and maintaining coops. The way Mr. Evans tells it, there's a small group who've bent the ear of the Council and pushed for the change regardless its impact on the existing flocks.

What really caught my eye was this passage in his letter:
The passing of legislation that deprives citizens of their investment in property, that were lawful at the time of their acquisition, is a questionable practice under any circumstances. Doing so in the absence of any clear finding of a public danger or menace is an abuse of power. If, as Councilman Bond suggests, the ordinance is unenforceable, this act is foolish.
I hadn't thought about the investment side of this argument before. I'd only been looking at it from the side of "let's make urban chickens legal because they aren't now."

Here's hoping there aren't any other townships looking at criminalizing urban chickens. But if they do, let's hope Mr Evans' pointing out the deprivation of investment in property is a compelling argument to give the legislators pause.

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