By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

City Chicken Ordinance Goes to First Reading Aug. 20


August 8, 2018

In a packed Glasgow City Council meeting Monday, Aug. 6, the council decided to move a proposal for a city ordinance to allow the raising of chickens in city limits to go to a first reading at the city council meeting, which will occur at 5:30 p.m., on Aug. 20. For weeks, organizers and supporters of allowing chickens in city limits have worked with the city to draft an ordinance that would change the current law and allow the birds to be raised in town.

During that same period, those organizers have built support, over a dozen of whom were present at Monday’s meeting, and engage in the civic process to end the prohibition of the animals in town. Only one voice spoke at the meeting in open opposition to the ordinance expressing concerns about the hygiene of the animals, the amount of waste they produce and the fact that the creatures carry diseases such as avian flus and salmonella. She cited concerns that people could be hospitalized as a result of exposure to diseases from the animals, and that they could attract more pests, such as flies, that may require pesticides to be sprayed in town.

Many of the participants, roughly a dozen, were openly in support of the ordinance. Many asserted their belief that chickens would be responsibly cared for and that in other cities, such as Portland, Ore., Bozeman and Helena, many had not seen or heard of issues.

Donna Pankratz, who heads the poultry project with 4H, was excited that kids living in the city limits would have an opportunity to care for and learn from raising chickens. “I’ve noticed that kids really learn to observe the chickens more than any other animal,” said Pankratz, expressing a hope that the opportunity would be afforded to the youth in town.

Connie Boreson was also excited at the opportunity for kids to take on the responsibility of raising chickens. “I’m here on behalf of children who need to have an opportunity to learn responsibility, caring and compassion,” said Boreson, going on to discuss her family’s history with raising chickens and how that responsibility would be beneficial to young people in Glasgow.

The primary organizer for the ordinance, Madelyn House, presented information from animal control and city officials in various Montana cities which suggested having chickens within city limits was not much of an issue at all in those jurisdictions. She also made a case that the city council seemed to be the best venue to determine the ordinance and that a ballot initiative would not be timely or cost effective if the council could take up the measure in a quick and reasonable way.

After a brief discussion on the part of the council, and a back and forth that appeared to be leaning toward putting the matter up as a ballot initiative, Stan Ozark gave an impassioned speech about the excitement from the participation in the public process he had seen from the campaign to allow chickens in town. Ozark urged the council to put the ordinance out for a first reading and allow the public to come , comment on it and get involved in the law-making process.

Speaking directly to House, Ozark commended her for her efforts saying, “Thanks for taking an issue out and doing it right.”

Ultimately, the council decided to put the measure out for a first reading following a few discussed changes to the language. That reading will be open for public comment at the council’s Aug. 20 meeting. From there the ordinance can be passed by the council or referred to a second reading at a separate council meeting, where the council could again either decide to pass the measure, table it or make it a ballot initiative for a vote in the city’s normal 2019 election.


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