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Poultry proponents hatch idea

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GREENFIELD — Some Greenfield citizens are hoping they don’t ruffle any feathers as they work to bring chickens back to the city.

Lexie Dillon, Kaylee Kennedy and others are working to help Greenfield join a growing movement across the country that is pushing for more backyard chickens in residential areas.

“The cost of food has gone up so much, and there are so many concerns about salmonella and all the other foodborne illnesses. By growing it yourself, you know it’s organic, you know what the chickens ate, you know what you’re going to eat,” Dillon said.

There is an additional benefit as well. Having chickens allows a property to go greener by using the waste from the chickens to sustain gardens and using the garden waste to feed the chickens, Dillon said.

But there’s just one problem – chickens aren’t allowed to be kept inside city limits. Dillon and Kennedy brought their request to the Greenfield City Council on Wednesday night, hoping that the council will eventually vote to allow a small number of chickens to be kept at a residence.

“Much has been learned about the raising of hens in the city since the (original) ordinance was passed May 27, 2009,” Dillon told the council, referring to an ordinance that banned the presence of farm animals, including chickens, inside city limits.

She added that the ordinance should spell out the distance a small chicken coop could be located from homes and neighbors as well as additional details.

“Allowing this variance will enable citizens to enjoy a healthier lifestyle and reduce their carbon footprint,” Dillon said.

Councilwoman Judy Swift said students in agricultural programs such as 4-H could benefit if the city were to remove the ban.

“Kids in 4-H are very interested,” she said.

Looking at what other similar cities have done, Swift said there would have to be rules put in place to make sure that allowing chickens does not create other problems.

“The ordinances I read are very restrictive. Definitely no roosters, and (they) must be well-contained, and have to have coops,” Swift said.

Dillon has already looked at ways to keep the birds fenced in inside a smaller area. She suggested prospective chicken owners could obtain a coop attachment that allows the chickens and the pen to be moved around the yard.

“It’s a healthier way to let them free range without actually having them outside of the coop,” Dillon said.

At the city council meeting, Dillon provided a list of 25 cities from across the country that have allowed a similar chicken amendment.

Kennedy, who met Dillon through a website called  backyardchickens.com, started a Facebook page with the hope of spreading the word and gaining support.

BackYard Chickens is an online community for chicken enthusiasts who are seeking advice about chickens, sharing information and more. The Greenfield-based Facebook page already has 78 likes.

“We created the page to generate more interest and likes,” Kennedy said. “Hopefully, once the ordinance is approved, it will be a way for people to continue to share their story about chickens.”

For Greenfield, Dillon had suggested a limit of around five or six chickens, which she said would feed a small family with plenty of leftover eggs for neighbors. Kennedy noted that stores that sell chicks in the spring have a minimum purchase of six animals.

The city council agreed to form a committee to look into the possibility of allowing chickens inside city limits.

“I think it’s something we should definitely look into,” Swift said. “They’re not free range, and they’re not walking the streets.”

More information about the group’s efforts is available on their site at  www.facebook.com/greenfieldchicks.

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