Bryan sent me an email this weekend to explain that just such a law is on the books in Mobile, Alabama (pop 182,000).
The urban chicken ordinance says you can have up to 25 hens in Mobile (no roosters) but they must be kept at all times inside a chicken house/yard that is no closer than 200 feet to a neighbor's residence, and following exacting restrictions on the materials and size of the chicken yard.
But, as Bryan points out:
The first issue I have is with the 200 feet or more distance from other residence. This seems to be extreme. Many of the subdivision have 75 to 90 foot wide lots. Place a house in the middle of each and you soon realize that you can't meet the 200 foot requirement.I agree with Bryan's frustrations, and it seems rather, um, political to legalize something on the books that can't practically be done. I told Bryan I don't know of any model urban chicken ordinances out there, but it seems to me the simpler, the better.
The second issue I have is (2) Walls, etc. four inch (poured!) concrete wall that extends 12" above and 18" below the surface of the ground. This again seems extreme.
I know many people that reside in the country and have happy chickens that live in a wood and wire chicken house that has a dirt floor.
This is where I need your help. Is there any model language by any recognized group? I am sure that our code is many, many years old.
Do you know of model language to use in writing a good urban chicken law? You can contact Bryan directly at bryan2373 [at] comcast [dot] net.
I've started to compile a list of the exact ordinances making chickens legal over on the Urban Chickens Network Legal Resource Center (shh, it's not yet launched, so you're the first to know!) where folks like Bryan can easily see the technical language employed by cities to legalize chickens. If you live in a place where chickens are legal, please add your city's name to the list so we can capture the municipal code and flesh out the resource center. Thanks!
Photo credit: bsdubois00 on Flickr