I know, I know, I've totally gone off the deep end.
I was invited to join the first ever meeting of the UFS- the Urban Fowl Subcommittee.
Yes folks, it is true, the City of Missoula has formed a sub-committee of City Councilmembers to propose a new ordinance allowing a yet undetermined number of hens to be kept on city lots within the city limits. It was really interesting to go to the UFS meeting.
First off, I was the only "out" chicken keeper there. The other guy that was there that had chickens didn't want to talk about them (we talked beforehand so I was privy to his illegal chicken ownership) because:
1) he lives in city limits and could get busted
2) he is there to make impartial recommendations as part of his work for a local sustainable agriculture non-profit
So I was the smiling face that represented the chicken owners of Missoula! So exciting! I think I did my fellow chicken owners proud. I talked about how quiet and nice hens are, the amount of space that chickens need, and some realistic ideas for how to help Missoula pass a good ordinance allowing small all-hen flocks.
I feel like the meeting went really well. Everyone was positive and engaged in the conversation, and in the end the concerns raised by the UFS members were all reasonable and thoughtful.
Here is my educated prediction- Missoula will pass the following basic ordinance sometime this summer:
- Six hens allowed per household
- No roosters allowed
- $10 annual licensing fee administered by Animal Control
- Hens must be enclosed and coop must be 20ft from nearest neighbor's structures
- Chicken feed must adhere to the pre-existing "wildlife attractant" ordinances in Missoula (to keep bears and such away from people and houses)
- No butchering allowed
- Coop must be tidy, low odor, and judged sanitary
That sounds really good to me. I think this would be a big victory for urban hens.
I'll keep the blog updated on this topic. The next UFS meeting is on the 6th of June, I think, and the draft ordinance will be there for us to comment and edit.