Chicken ordinance has Knoxville officials scrambling
Posted: Friday, July 30, 2010 9:51 pm
By: By John Brannon
Much amused was I to read an Associated Press story Wednesday about the chicken situation in Knoxville.
Referring to it as “backyard chickens,” AP opens its report with an admirable play on words. “A proposed ordinance to allow backyard chickens to be kept in Knoxville for eggs will have to be read again after it was scrambled,” it says.
Here’s the deal. The ordinance was to have been passed Tuesday evening by the Knoxville city council, but changes were made, requiring another approval.
“The proposal would allow residents to keep up to six hens, but no roosters, to lay eggs for personal consumption. … The permit fee would also double to $50.”
Well, that stopped me dead in my tracks.
Six hens but no roosters? What kind of deal is that? Does nothing to encourage romance, that’s for sure. Give a rooster six hens of his own and every morning, bright and early, he’ll puff out his chest and shout it to the world. With good reason. I’d like to do some crowing myself, but … well, that’s another story.
A chicken permit fee would double to $50? There goes whatever money you saved by those six hens dropping a few non-roosterized eggs.
What’s the local situation on this sensitive subject? I called a few public officials to get their take on it. I started with Union City Mayor Terry Hailey.
He said he saw a feature about it in The Wall Street Journal last week that said it’s becoming “really popular, particularly in big cities.”
“I am serious,” he said. “Reason is, the cost of eggs. They even make a chicken diaper that you can put on a chicken so it can stay in the house.”
Say what? Say it isn’t so. “It is so.”
Is Union City going to have a chicken ordinance of its own?
“I haven’t seen one on the agenda yet, but never say never,” he said.
Troy Mayor Jimmie Hart said he’d have to check city ordinances, “but we haven’t had any problem with people raising chickens in Troy.”
“Of course, everybody had chickens when I was growing up,” he said. “We had a milk cow, too. Kids these days don’t know where eggs and milk come from. They think it comes from a store.”
Samburg Mayor Larry Gene Davis was brief and to the point. “This is farm country. This is chicken country. ‘Nuff said,” he told me.
Last but not least, Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire joined the chorus. The county does not have zoning, “so you can have chickens,” he said.
I told McGuire about the chicken diapers. He winced as I did. “The only way a chicken’ll come into my house is it’s dead and ready to be cut up and fried,” he said. “We had chickens when I was growing up. They’re nasty.”
Backyard chickens in Knoxville, a metro area, population about 180,000, hometown of the venerable Vols? What’s next? A few hens at the governor’s mansion?
New subject: Fodder for a future column. As we approach the dog days of August, this heavy question: In hot weather, should your car windows be up or down when the air conditioner is on?
Staff reporter John Bran-non may be contacted by e-mail at jbrannon@ucmes senger.com.
Published in The Messenger 7.30.10