Tuesday, September 2, 2014 · 5:07 a.m.

Urban chicken proposal could return to City Council

Group to consider revised animal ordinance next week

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The Chattanooga City Council Building. (Photo: Staff)

Chattanooga City Council members will take another shot at passing a comprehensive animal control ordinance next week, only this time without a provision for urban chickens. 

But that doesn't mean the controversial proposal, shot down by the group in a 6-3 vote last week, is going away.

On Tuesday, the city's legislative body is set to consider the ordinance at large, which includes guidelines for animal permits in the city. It also details provisions for dealers, kennels and groups engaging with animals for performance, as well as animal rescuers and businesses. 

Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem said language pertaining to urban chickens had been struck from the proposal after last week's debate on the issue. Chattanooga is the only city of its size in Tennessee to not have a chicken ordinance.

"Not moving on the ordinance is putting some kennels and others in a predicament," Hakeem said. "They paid their money, but they can't get certifications and other things. We have the authority to put the piece back on the agenda without the element that was perceived to put it off before."

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

Despite last week's defeat for urban chicken supporters, Hakeem said there was interest among councilpersons to bring a revised version of the ordinance back immediately.

Councilman Chris Anderson, who initiated the proposal to legalize egg-laying hens within city limits, said he was interested in bringing a chicken ordinance back to the group only if it was "done in a way that's palatable to a majority."

"I would be interested in bringing it back immediately," Anderson said. "But if it's not going to happen, I wouldn't waste any time on it."

Anderson suggested that a compromise proposal, briefly mentioned by the city attorney's office during last week's council meeting, might be able to gain traction from the group. That measure would require citizens who wish to own urban chickens to first inform neighbors of their intent to do so before being granted a permit by the animal center. 

Neighbors would have a brief window of time—Anderson suggested 15 days—to voice their opinion on the issue to the city's Animal Control Board. The group would then survey the situation between neighbors and make a determination based on facts relevant to the individual case.

"I think that's a better process than your neighbors having no recourse," Anderson said. "I wish we had put that idea forward last Tuesday night, officially."

Anderson said he had not yet polled his colleagues on the council to gauge support for the revised proposal. He said the issue could potentially be brought back to the council in as soon as a few weeks or several months from now. 

"I know there are still people who want to comply with the law and control their own food supply, and if I can help them to do that, I will," he said.

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