It is now legal for residents of Wright City, Missouri, to own chickens after aldermen approved an ordinance allowing people to buy up to four chickens.
It’s now legal for residents of Wright City to own chickens after the board of aldermen approved a measure during the Aug. 24 meeting. The measure allows residents to own four hens.
“This is of special interest because it really started from a grassroots push from our citizens wanting chickens,” Board of Aldermen President Ramiz Hakim said during the discussion. “Alderwoman Owens and I have got back and forth debating and compromising and listening to our citizens and trying to find areas of compromise to make as many people happy.”
Hakim said he and Alderwoman Kerry Owens had heard from a number of Wright City residents urging them to allow residential chickens.
“Overall, there is a sense of people wanting chickens, but that has also been met with a number of citizens afraid of the consequences of allowing people to have chickens,” Hakim said during the meeting.
“And I so I feel like Alderwoman Owens and I have been able to cover much of the concerns in the way that this ordinance was written to ensure that people can have the freedom and liberty to have up to four hens and no roosters in their backyard, secured with a chicken coop and … not have too many where they would become a nuisance or distractions or a sanitary issue for their neighbors.”
Owens said there was “a lot of compromise” is why four hens are allowed.
“The ordinance had been 12 originally, but with a much further setback,” she said. “So when we moved that up, we want to make it still manageable. So like Alderman Hakim had mentioned, there were a lot of comments from the public on yes or no. Some people said two, some said six, some said three. So we split the difference and went for four.”
The requirements for owning chickens are:
“We want to make sure that people understand that even if the city passes an ordinance that says you can have chickens and you live in a subdivision that has an HOA and your HOA says that you cannot have chickens, you cannot have chickens,” Mayor Michelle Heiliger said.
However, the city also said it does not enforce HOAs.
“But no matter where they live, if they get chickens and are not following the city ordinance, then we will enforce that,” Heiliger said.
The board of aldermen approved the measure by a 3-1 vote. Alderwoman Kim Arbuthnot was the only alderman to oppose the new ordinance.
“I just did not think that the ordinance we had in place needed to be changed,” she said. “I felt that it was perfectly fine and I just did not think that I had enough support from the people in my area. If we’re trying to cultivate a better community and we’re trying to elevate that to the next level, then why are we talking about allowing our neighbors to have chickens?”
Arbuthnot was also troubled by potential HOA violations.
“You’re going to have law enforcement now that is going to be called for these violations,” Arbuthnot said in an interview following the meeting. “The HOAs that have the rules against them, now not only do you have law enforcement that going that cannot enforce a law, but you have HOAs that are now having to, if people are violating, put a violation toward the neighbor, whatever, whomever has these chickens and who’s going to pay for all of that legal work? Well, the citizens are going to pay for all that legal work and I just did not think the ordinance that we had in place needed to be changed.”
Wright City resident Sandra Fears was also opposed to the ordinance.
“I do not want chickens in my backyard nor my neighbors,” she said in a message to The Record. “I would have purchased or built a home in the country if I wanted farm animals around me.”
Fears did say she was pleased that the new city ordinance would not overrule HOAs.
She was also concerned about an increase in coyotes in her subdivision.
“In the last three months we have had coyotes sitting in the backyard waiting to catch one of the chickens that our neighbor has,” Fears said. “They pose a threat to those of us with small dogs on tethers outside and those in fenced yards.”
She did add that she knows the development is shrinking the coyote habitat and believes the situation can be remedied.
She also saw no reason people would need chickens to harvest their own eggs because store prices have dropped.
“There is no monetary reason to house and raise chickens in a subdivision,” she said.
Arbuthnot was also concerned about that issue.
“Feeding chickens and keeping chickens is going to be even more expensive,” she said. “That makes no sense.”
Arbuthnot was also concerned about what might come next.
“Somebody says, well, you know, I’d really like to have ducks and a pond or I want to raise turkeys or sheep,” she said. “So where do we draw the line there?”
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