published Saturday, July 6th, 2013

Chattanooga City Council plans to talk chicken


The urban chicken educational session will be held after the regularly scheduled agenda session and committee meetings starting at 3 p.m. Tuesday in the assembly room of the City Council Building at 1000 Lindsay St.


This is how Chattanooga City Council members voted last week on the first reading of an ordinance for animal permitting that would allow urban chickens.

Chris Anderson -- yes

Carol Berz -- no

Moses Freeman -- yes

Russell Gilbert -- yes

Larry Grohn -- no

Chip Henderson -- yes

Jerry Mitchell -- yes

Ken Smith -- no

Yusuf Hakeem -- yes

Most politicians around the country talk turkey, but here in the Scenic City, they talk chicken.

At least that's what Chattanooga City Council members will be discussing Tuesday after a regularly scheduled agenda session.

Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem said Friday that the urban chicken education session is intended to clear up any more questions council members may have before they vote that evening on a final reading of a revised ordinance that will legalize and set rules for keeping chickens inside city limits.

The first reading of the ordinance passed last week in a 6-3 vote, after a failed vote to defer the issue for a week. If passed, the ordinance will go into effect in 90 days.

Councilman Larry Grohn, who opposes allowing chickens, said he was especially displeased by a last-minute amendment that allows neighbors to bar neighbors from keeping chickens.

"I was not happy; I thought the council really shirked their responsibilities by putting the onus on people's next-door neighbors," Grohn said.

Under the amendment, which was added and voted on at the request of Councilman Jerry Mitchell, a resident cannot gain a so-called chicken permit if any neighbor with whom the resident shares a property line is against urban fowl.

Despite being in the anti-poultry camp, Grohn said the neighbor-veto amendment touches a more sensitive nerve.

"What if you have five neighbors, and one of them says you can't have it? Good grief, talk about an invasion of personal property rights," Grohn said.

Chris Anderson, who has been champion of the chicken cause, said the information session on Tuesday is intended to clear up any final questions -- or rumors -- that haven't been answered.

"I'm sure we will be rehashing things that have already been said, but if that's what it takes to get the correct information out there, that's fine with me," Anderson said. "I just want to get everything back out in the open."

Grohn, who is co-hosting the session, said it's important for people who are going to own chickens to know what they are getting into.

"It's just a matter of educating people. It's going to be complaint driven, so if an inspector comes out there and you aren't up to code, they are going to keep coming out. And they could fine you $50 every time," he said.

While Grohn understands the idea behind urban chickens, he suggested that people garden instead.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@times or 423-757-6481. Follow him on Twitter at @glbrogdoniv.

about Louie Brogdon...

Louie Brogdon began reporting with the Chattanooga Times Free Press in February 2013. Before he came to the Scenic City, Louie lived on St. Simons Island, Ga. and covered crime, courts, environment and government at the Brunswick News, a 17,000-circulation daily on the Georgia coast. While there, he was awarded for investigative reporting on police discipline and other law enforcement issues by the Georgia Press Association. For the Times Free Press, Louie covers Hamilton County ...

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