Chickens steal the show at Roswell meeting

The Roswell City Council meeting turned into a show and tell session Monday night when two backyard chicken farmers brought birds into the council chambers during a discussion of the proposed poultry ordinance.

After several residents had complained about the crowing of roosters, Tamara Barhar carried a small rooster to the podium, followed by her young daughter carrying a second rooster.

“I just wanted to dispel the myth they are big, bad characters,” she said. The birds didn’t make a peep during the meeting.

Andrew Wordes brought a box of birds so small that one could be held in the palm of his hand. He said he wanted to make the point that limiting residents to 25 birds, as the proposed ordinance would do, seems silly with such small animals.

The council has been wrestling with the poultry ordinance since a judge tossed out the city’s old law several months ago. Wordes had been cited for having birds and emerged as a champion of the growing backyard chicken crowd.

The proposed ordinance would limit residents of single-family homes to no more than 25 birds. An exception would be people who already keep chickens. They could “grandfather” in another 15.

Not everybody said they loved chickens. Keith Badalamente was one of the people to complain about the noise from roosters.

“Can you imagine what it’s like to wake up with roosters every morning?” he said. “This is not the place for a farm.”

Ted Gum suggested the new law should have some control over the fencing and structures used by backyard poultry farmers. He said his neighbor has birds.

“We look out on a fence of wire and wood that quite frankly looks like it should be in a ghetto,” he said.

Council members said it might be a good idea to set requirements on the size of chicken coops or the lots of people who keep chickens. Requiring people to put their roosters inside at night was also mentioned. But those changes were not written into the ordinance that was given first reading Monday night.

Several bird lovers suggested the council didn’t need any sort of new ordinance because existing laws deal with problems such as smell and noise. But the council said the ordinance was needed for people who were irresponsible with their chickens and not sensitive to their neighbors.

The proposed ordinance must go through another reading by council, possibly on Dec. 14, before it becomes law.