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Riverton Limits Residents to Two Chickens

Nov 06, 2014 08:05AM ● Published by Rachel Hall

Despite a national trend, some Riverton residents won’t have their own little barnyard anytime soon.

On Oct. 7, Riverton City Council denied an ordinance that would allow up to six chickens to be kept as household pets in areas zoned as small, single-family residential lots with a vote of 3-2. Only Councilmembers Trent Staggs and Paul Wayman were in favor of the failed measure, while Brent Johnson, Sheldon Stewart and Tricia Tingey voted in opposition.

City council members recognized that neighboring jurisdictions already allow for more than two chickens to be considered household pets, but there were concerns about permitting and enforcement. For example, Animal Services only deals with domesticated animals such as dogs. This means that no one would be responsible for handling chickens that escape from a yard, except the homeowner. 

Those issues raised doubts about passing the local ordinance that had been previously recommended for approval by the planning commission on Aug. 28.

Among the residents who addressed the council was Rick Stomack who said he was in favor of household chickens which he considered to be a national trend, although he did suggest that roosters and crowing hens not be allowed.

Mayor Bill Applegarth spoke against the measure, citing examples of potentially dangerous situations between chickens and his family members.

Years ago, when his daughter was almost 3, they were in their yard together when a neighbor’s loose rooster appeared and became aggressive toward the young girl.

“He started trying to peck her and jump on her,” said Applegarth, who said he was lucky that he was nearby in order to save her from being badly hurt.  He felt chickens should only be allowed on larger lots and not on the smaller residential lots that measure one-quarter-acre or less.

Despite noise and nuisance ordinances that would still be in effect if household chickens would have been approved, the council’s vote shows that not everyone can agree on what constitutes a family pet.
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