Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Urban Chickens Being Debated Again in Iowa City

It has been a long time since I've written about urban chickens, in or around Iowa City. Frankly, it's been a while since they've been in the news. Urban chicken advocates have been fighting to get the Iowa City City Council to approve chickens within the city limits for a few years, but it's been a losing battle. Our city councillors simply have not been willing to entertain the issue. Meanwhile, Cedar Rapids legalized urban chicken ownership back in September 2010 and has experienced almost no chicken-related problems.

Now the folks from Iowa City Citizens for the Legalization of Urban Chicken Keeping (I-CLUCK -- gotta love that acronym!) are bringing this issue back up for public discussion with hopes for a more successful outcome. It looks like they plan on patterning their proposal after Cedar Rapids' successful model:
Urban chicken advocates have hatched a discussion about legalizing hens in city limits. “We’re just trying to get the idea out there,” said Shannon Gassman, 25, a web and graphic designer who moved to Iowa City two years ago.

Iowa City Citizens for the Legalization of Urban Chicken Keeping, or I-CLUCK, hopes a grassroots effort will have a better outcome now than a previous try shortly after the floods of 2008... “I think the main thing that’s different is the timing,” said Gassman, noting that the city council was still working on flood recovery the last time the change was proposed.

The Cedar Rapids City Council passed an ordinance in 2010 to allow up to six hens per household. Gassman said an exact number has not been set for the Iowa City proposal, but it would be similar to Cedar Rapids, with a small number of hens and no roosters. “That number is something we’re flexible on,” she said.

The group is starting an online petition and plans to gather signatures at Iowa City farmers markets and other events. Members have informally discussed the idea with one council member, but do not yet have a timeline for bringing the proposal before the city council.
I wish I-CLUCK well. I was skeptical when I first heard about efforts to allow chickens in Iowa City. But I kept my mind open, I listened to their points, and I watched the results in nearby Cedar Rapids. The chicken advocates have won me over to their side! I don't see myself ever raising chickens in my backyard, but I also don't see myself freaking out if one of my neighbors ever decides to build their own backyard chicken coop (unless, of course, they allow their little farm to become an unkempt nuisance!). I look forward to watching this story unfold!

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