I admit that when I first read some of the headlines about this in my news reader ("Provo's chicken law on hold" and "Billings balks at Provo chicken ordinance"), I was upset thinking that this one person was going against the will of the people to block chickens in the city.
Moreover, it's the first time Billings has blocked an ordinance since 2007. Now that I've researched the subject, I see he vetoed the ordinance for all the right reasons.
He's not against people owning chickens in the city, he's against the awkward way the Council wrote the ordinance that would allow six urban chickens per household in Provo.
The challenges Billings found in the way the urban chickens ordinance was crafted include:
- requiring permits for chickens (that would have to renew annually)
- hiring a part-time chicken coop inspector (at $50,000 per year! -- where do I apply?)
- distance limits (15-foot distance limit from the property lines)
- no deference to county health rules in case of an emergency (think: flu outbreak)
The council originally passed the ordinance 4-3, and they need just a single vote to swing to get the 5 necessary to override Billings's veto.
I hope they do the right thing, though, and re-write the ordinance to make owning chickens easier and more reasonable. Just so long as they make urban chickens legal.