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Urban chickens proposal rejected by Oklahoma City Council

Oklahoma City Council members said they heard from neighborhood and homeowner associations that allowing backyard chickens was a step they were unprepared to take. The vote was 5-4.
by William Crum Modified: May 13, 2014 at 10:04 pm •  Published: May 14, 2014

Suburban angst defeated the latest effort to give hens a home in the city.

The Oklahoma City Council voted 5-4 on Tuesday against a proposal to relax rules on who can keep chickens.

Opposition came from outside the districts where walkable neighborhoods, locally sourced food and backyard gardens are trending and transforming the city.

Ward 5 Councilman David Greenwell suggested advocates — if they’re willing to work at it — eventually could prevail.

“My estimate is this will not go away so easily,” Greenwell said.

Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid, Ward 4 Councilman Pete White and Ward 6 Councilwoman Meg Salyer put together the latest plan for backyard egg-layers. It followed the Dec. 31 defeat of a proposal that had been part of a broad measure to promote urban agriculture.

Under the ordinance defeated Tuesday, residents who wanted to keep chickens would have had to apply for a permit and pay $25.

Neighbors would have been notified — a key change from the earlier proposal — and given a chance to comment.

The city’s board of adjustment would have voted on permits after hearing from neighbors.

Proposed limits included:

•A prohibition on roosters and outdoor slaughter.

•Sufficient shelter and yard space, and cleanliness standards.

•Enclosures sufficient to keep chickens from roaming into neighbors’ yards.

•No more than six hens to a yard.

Current rules limiting chickens to lots of at least one acre, far larger than typical urban residential lots, will remain in effect.

Despite current restrictions, advocates say chickens are common in parts of Oklahoma City.

Close vote

Shadid, White, Salyer and Mayor Mick Cornett voted for giving more residents the option of keeping chickens.

Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner, Ward 3 Councilman Larry McAtee, Greenwell, Ward 7 Councilman John Pettis and Ward 8 Councilman Pat Ryan voted against the proposal. All five represent areas with significant suburban populations, and several said neighborhood associations were strongly opposed.

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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The Oklahoma City Council defeated, by a vote of 5-4, a proposal to relax restrictions on raising chickens in the city.

Votes against

•James Greiner, Ward 1

•Larry McAtee, Ward 3

•David Greenwell, Ward 5

•John Pettis, Ward 7

•Pat Ryan, Ward 8

Votes in favor

•Ed Shadid, Ward 2

•Pete White, Ward 4

•Meg Salyer, Ward 6

•Mayor Mick Cornett


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