Chattanooga eyes lifting ban on chickens in the city

Chattanooga eyes lifting ban on chickens in the city

June 26th, 2013 by Cliff Hightower in Local - Breaking News


POLL: Should people be allowed to raise chickens in the city?


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• The Chattanooga City Council voted 9-0 to award $32,000 to Chattanooga police Officer Lorin Johnston after he was injured in the line of duty two years ago. He was wounded during a gunbattle that killed Sgt. Tim Chapin.

• The City Council approved 9-0 to enter into an agreement with BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee to provide the city with a stop-loss policy on large health insurance claims.

• The Council voted 6-2-1 to confirm the reappointment of Mike Mallen to the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority.

• The council voted 6-2-1 on the appointment of Doug Stein as chairman of the Stormwater Regulations Board.

• The council voted 9-0 to appoint David Hudson to the Stormwater Regulations Board.

Supporters of backyard chicken coops may have something to crow about if Chattanooga City Council members approve a new animal ordinance that allows chickens within city limits.

The proposed ordinance limits to eight the number of hens allowed, prohibits outdoor slaughtering, allows the chickens to be kept only at single-family homes, and sets a $100 permit fee.

Michael Mallen, chairman of the city's Animal Control Board, acknowledged council members can amend the proposed animal ordinance any way they see fit.

"We are looking for you to fill those gaps in," Mallen told council members Tuesday.

Hundreds of cities in the United States have embraced the idea of urban farming, including residents keeping livestock such as chickens on their property. While opponents argue that noise and smell will adversely affect property values in neighborhoods where chickens are allowed, the trend is spreading in municipalities of all sizes across the country. Supporters contend raising their own chickens allows them more control over their food supply and teaches families important lessons about where food comes from and healthy eating.

Councilman Chris Anderson pointed to specific parts of the proposed ordinance for possible review, such as the number of chickens allowed and the single-family home restriction.

The council began looking at a chicken ordinance almost a month and a half ago when Anderson first proposed it. He proposed 10 hens should be allowed.

At the time, the council voted 6-3 to let the Animal Control Board review the proposed ordinance first before coming to the council. The board has been working on an overall update to the city's animal control ordinances since January.

Several council members had questions about the overall package, not just the chicken ordinance.

Councilwoman Carol Berz said she had concerns about the cost of enforcement compared to the cost of permitting. She pointed out most permits had initial costs of $100 with $10 annual renewal fees.

She asked about the cost of enforcement.

Karen Walsh, executive director of the McKamey Animal Care & Adoption Center, said costs would be about $300 for enforcement and implementation of the program per chicken owner. She said she did not have more detailed breakdowns of costs, but could provide those next week.

Councilman Chip Henderson questioned the chicken ordinance itself, saying there already are chickens all across the city. The policy has always been "don't ask, don't tell," he said.

He hinted he may disagree with the complexity of the proposal.

"This seems more complicated than it should be," he said.

The council is expected to vote on the ordinance next week.

Hamilton County Commissioner Tim Boyd addressed the City Council at the end of its regularly scheduled business meeting Tuesday night and told members that commissioners will not spend more money on an indoor firing range.

"We'll spend $1.5 million and not a penny more," he said.

The council last week approved giving 50 percent of the range, currently under construction on 10th Street, to the county as a joint partnership. During that meeting, the council asked if the county would pay more if there were added expenses.

"Sir, this could have been handled by a simple phone call," said Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem.

Boyd said he wanted to make clear the county would not pay more than the agreed on price. He said he had talked with other commissioners who agreed with him.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at or 423-757-6480. Follow him at or