Saturday, November 22, 2014 · 10:14 a.m.
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The Chattanooga City Council Building. (Photo: Staff)

Chicken talk continues today at Chattanooga City Council. 

This afternoon, council members will hear the merits and faults of private chicken ownership, consider the ramifications and then cast votes on an ordinance that would allow egg-laying hens to be legal city residents for the first time since 2005. 

Tonight's vote has been months in the making. 

In May, District 7 Councilman Chris Anderson brought forward a proposal to allow chickens to be kept on residential property for personal use, citing requests made to him by constituents. The council opted to defer the ordinance, instead preferring to consider it as part of a broader animal control package, which is being voted on tonight. 

Chickens are currently not allowed within Chattanooga city limits. (Photo: GNU, MGNOnline)

The vote comes one week after council members approved the animal control ordinance on first reading in a 6-3 vote.

Approval came after several amendments to the chicken proposal were made, including a reduction in a permit fee from $100 to $50 and a provision that would no longer require McKamey Animal Center to conduct inspections of households that wanted to raise urban chickens prior to issuing permits. 

Inspections by the animal center would instead be conducted on a complaint basis and include checks with neighbors of chicken owners. An amendment proposed by District 2 Councilman Jerry Mitchell would require inspectors to see if neighbors of chicken owners approved of the raising of fowl on property that was adjacent to theirs. 

The issue has been divisive. 

Last week, the group heard from several residents who opposed urban chickens. Concerns voiced by the opposition included noise issues, odor, luring of additional animals and transfer of disease. Others cited concerns that the introduction of chickens to a neighborhood would result in a collective reduction of property values. 

Following Tuesday's 3 p.m. agenda session, council members will hear from both supporters and critics of urban chickens. The informational session was called for last week by City Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem, who said members of the group could benefit from additional time to hear different perspectives and consider the issue. 

If approved, the ordinance would apply in 90 days. Residents would be allowed to raise no more than eight egg-laying hens, with no roosters. The birds would be required to have their wings clipped and kept in backyard, fenced-in enclosures at all times. 

Additionally, individual neighborhoods would have the opportunity to opt out of allowing chickens if two-thirds of registered active members of a recognized neighborhood association stated their desire to not permit chickens to the council in a written petition.

Chattanooga is the only city of its size in Tennessee without a legal chicken ordinance.

Despite being illegal, several city residents keep chickens on their property anyway. 

The council will vote on the animal control ordinance at its 6 p.m. meeting. 

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