Council to vote on 'backyard chicken' proposal

7:35 AM, Jun 20, 2011   |    comments
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If the council members approve it, Denver residents will be able to have up to eight chickens or ducks and up to two dwarf goats in their backyard.

At least one city council member told 9NEWS she thinks the measure pass, but not unanimously.

A final decision by the council on the proposal was supposed to be made last Monday night, but so many council members were absent, so the council decided to push the decision off until tonight. However, the public was able to weigh-in on the issue on June 13.

Supporters want to be able to produce their own eggs, but opponents say Denver is not rural enough for farm animals.

Denver resident James Bertini got involved with this issue more than two years ago when he wanted to lawfully have chickens on his property.

"When I examined the law I realized it is very difficult to get a chicken permit, it costs 150 dollars you have to apply through two city agencies, wait months, get the approval of your neighbors," Bertini said.

Bertini admits he isn't in compliance with the 50-year-old law, and he says he's not the only one.

He and hundreds of other chicken owners started an initiative to get the issue on a ballot to allow voters to decide whether Denver residents should be allowed to have chickens without a permit.

Before that idea could develop, the council decided to come up with their own proposal which would allow Denver residents to have up to eight chickens or ducks, and two dwarf goats.

Councilmember Jeanne Faatz opposes the idea.

"People who have contacted me today who have just discovered this is up are telling me I chose to live in the city, not a rural area, and I don't want farm animals next to me," Faatz said.

Faatz says she did an informal survey with her southwest Denver constituents on the issue, and she says 79 percent of them said they did not support the proposal.

"The concerns that they mentioned were increased attraction for predators, smells," Faatz said.

On Monday night, more than 50 people signed up to give their opinion on the issue.

"Food that we produce in our own backyards doesn't have to travel at all to get to our plates and therefore has a much smaller environmental impact," Jill Locantore, a supporter of the proposal, said.

"We already have predators in our neighborhoods such as foxes and coyotes, and their numbers will increase if we have chickens in our urban backyards," Kate Lawrence, who does not support the idea, said.

If it doesn't pass, Bertini says he will need to gain about 5,000 signatures within the next two weeks to get the issue on the November ballot.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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