Urban Chicken Supporters Push for Acceptance in Iowa City
By Mark Carlson, Reporter
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Supporters of urban chickens say it’s time the Iowa City council allow residents to raise chickens in their backyards. Members of the group I-CLUCK, Citizens for the Legalization of Urban Chicken Keeping, are expected to sit in at a city council meeting on Tuesday.
“I hope the city takes a look at other cities as an example,” said KT LaBadie, a member of the I-CLUCK movement who helped collect nearly 1,000 signatures on a petition that was delivered to the city council last month. LaBadie said the city of Cedar Rapids, who recently began allowing urban chickens, can serve as a good model for Iowa City.
The issue has come up in the past, but the council has shot down previous discussions. In 2009 city councilors worried that the flood damaged animal shelter wouldn’t be able to handle run-away chickens. With a new animal shelter in the works, city council member Connie Champion said she would now support backyard chickens.
“I’m really not against the idea of urban chickens,” said Champion. “A lot of towns happen to have urban chickens, and there hasn’t been a problem.”
Champion said she expects the idea will gain the support of at least three other councilors, clearing the way for the series of formal votes at future council meetings.
“It’s just like owning a dog,” said one Iowa City resident who is illicitly raising chickens in his backyard. “I’d rather have a chicken next door than a barking dog.”
Supporters argue the chickens can provide food, or in some cases profit. They also serve as pets for kids.
Supporters of the issue appear very passionate. On July 1 an emailer by the name of Sam McElmeel sent these two lines to city council members: “Don’t be a facist or a mob ruler- gimmie chickenz or gimme death.”
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