Written by Becca Habegger, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
ANDREW (KWWL) -
A livestock ordinance is ruffling some feathers in one small eastern Iowa town.
The issue of urban chickens is one many Iowa cities have faced. Andrew can now join that list.
To those who have never kept backyard chickens, it might seem like a bird-brained idea. However, all someone has to do to gain a better understanding of the practice is ask Susan Greer about the positive side of poultry-raising.
"Their eggs are more nutritious. They roam, they eat bugs - gobs of bugs - we don't have to use, well, we don't use insecticide," Greer said. "They eat bugs and fertilize our grass."
Greer has a flock of nine hens, but she faces losing them due to Andrew's livestock ordinance, which bans any farmyard animals from living within city limits.
The ordinance went into effect around 2007, but Greer's issue only recently popped up. She took in a chick that turned out to be a rooster, and neighbors complained. She got rid of the rooster and maintains she didn't know about the livestock ban prior to then.
When the city passed the ordinance, any existing livestock within city limits were grandfathered in. Council member Tony Hoefelmeyer mentioned one man in Andrew who continues to have a horse he owned prior to the ban. Once those animals die, however, the owners cannot replace them within city limits, according to the ordinance.
Greer maintains she has had her nine hens for years, well before the city passed the livestock ordinance.
Council members, however, wonder which came first: the chickens or the reg.
"She's admitted to bringing more in and replacing the ones that have died, so we just don't know, and so, at this point, we can't determine how many to keep, how many to get rid of, and there's no way to police the issue as well at this time," Hoefelmeyer said.
Surrounding neighbors have mixed opinions on the poultry. Many voiced their thoughts -- good and bad -- at Tuesday's city council meeting, where a variance to allow Greer to keep her chickens did not pass.
Now Greer waits for an abatement from the city, which will require her to remove the birds from city limits.
"We're going to try to fight it because they're my pets," she said, tearing up.
She plans on petitioning the city to amend its ordinance.
"If big cities, with all their crime and everything, can allow small chickens, you know, this little town of Andrew should allow people, if they want small flocks, to have small flocks," Greer said.
"You know, to have people in town support this petition for her and bring that to the council," Hoefelmeyer said, "at that time we can say, 'Hey, look, there's a strong interest in town here.'"
Iowa cities that allow chickens in some degree include Cedar Rapids, Coralville, Des Moines and Council Bluffs.
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