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Count your chickens: Council passes ordinance

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Littleton City Council passed an ordinance April 6, allowing residents to have up to four chickens in residential areas.

Under the city code, chickens were previously included in the definition of household pets, of which residents in certain residential areas were allowed only three.

Under the new ordinance, chickens must have a covered, predator-resistant enclosure, which can’t be within 15 feet of a neighbor’s property; roosters are prohibited; and chickens cannot be killed by the owner on the property. Odor, dust, waste and drainage must be controlled and not pose a nuisance or health problem to others.

Councilmembers Jim Taylor and Joseph Trujillo tried to push through an amendment removing the chicken-killing prohibition.

“I see no reason to have a prohibition in here that people could not use their chickens for food,” Taylor said. “As long as they don’t exceed the number at any time, raising them for food should be an allowable use.”

But other councilmembers disagreed. The measure failed 5-2.

“I’m going to vote no on this because…I can see neighbors getting upset when they see headless chickens running around in the backyard,” said Mayor Doug Clark.

Phil Cernanec was the only councilmember to vote against the ordinance. He said he did not support the ordinance because it requires chicken coops to be predator-resistant, but no commercially available chicken coops guarantee predator resistance. City staff will not be inspecting chicken housing.

“Coyotes are notoriously wily, are present in Littleton, are not broadly beloved (especially within the neighborhoods, around pets, and around children), and are known to consider chickens tasty,” Cernanec wrote in an e-mail. “Without predator-resistance bite (better yet, predator-proof guarantee), I'm not ready to support further populating our backyards with flightless fowl.”

Council decided to postpone a decision on an ordinance allowing residents to keep pigeons in the city until April 20, pending a review by the planning commission.

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