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O’Fallon looks at allowing poultry as pets, close to home food source

O'Fallon agricultural mapThe city of O’Fallon is looking at potentially allowing poultry to be kept as pets in non-agricultural areas.

At a City Council work session on Aug. 14, Lenore Toser-Aldaz, assistant city manager, made a presentation regarding O’Fallon’s animal control code relating to poultry, which she defined as domestic chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys.
The current ordinance pertaining to poultry only permits the raising of farm animals in agricultural zoning districts.

“Recently, we received several inquiries from residents who want to raise poultry in their back yard in residential neighborhoods,” Toser-Aldaz said. “As the city of O’Fallon is extensively urbanized, you can see that there are only a few areas that are agriculturally zoned.”

Toser-Aldaz compared the current O’Fallon ordinance to that of nearby municipalities, including St. Peters, St. Charles, Ballwin, Chesterfield and Ellisville.

St. Peters’ ordinance only allows chickens and ducks to be kept if it is in relation to a farming operation. The city of St. Charles allows residents to keep domesticated poultry, but the birds must have a permanent pen or shelter, which in turn must be at least 50 feet from any property line.

Chesterfield and Ballwin both allow chickens and other fowl on property at least 2 acres in size, and Ellisville only allows chicken hens, and the birds cannot be bred for sale.

The council debated the idea of domesticated poultry, giving voice to arguments for and against but reaching no definitive decision on the matter.

“There are so many people today using Whole Foods, and getting closer to the source of their foods, and eggs are a big source of that,” Councilmember Dave Hinman (Ward 1) said.

Councilmember Jim Pepper (Ward 2) expressed concerns about chickens possibly attracting predators and pests.

Rose Mack (Ward 2) said she grew up on a farm, and understands the desire to have fresh eggs on hand, but Mack said the place for domesticated poultry is not in O’Fallon subdivisions.

“I have a problem, because we are not a country atmosphere anymore in the city of O’Fallon,” Mack said. “We have very close neighbors, and I just don’t think it’s a good idea. If you are putting it on two acres, I can go along with that. But if you are putting it in subdivisions that we have in the city, I think that you’re going to find that there are more people with objections, and more people that are going to be upset by this than it is worth.”

Patrick Stovall, a two-year O’Fallon resident, has advocated for domestic chickens during public comments at several recent councilmeetings. At the Aug. 14 councilmeeting, Stovall pointed out that the multiple Homeowners Associations in O’Fallon will be unaffected by any ordinance allowing chickens to be kept as pets, as they can choose whether or not to allow poultry in their specific bylaws.

“That takes a big chunk of O’Fallon right out of the picture,” Stovall said.

Stovall said he thinks neighbors should have a say if nearby residents are keeping chickens, but only to a certain degree.

“Chickens have been domesticated for about 8,000 years,” Stovall said. “I do agree that our neighbors should be kept involved and it should be looked at to what they think, but also to a certain degree, if my neighbor has an allergy to cats does that mean I can’t have cats?”

13-year-old O’Fallon residents Amina Islam and Sarah Reider spoke in support of pet chickens as well.

“Owning poultry can be very rewarding, and they’re also fairly inexpensive to care for,” Islam said.

“All people have different preferences for pets,” Reider said. “Some are dog people, some cat, heck, some are even duck people. It is not right to prevent them from sharing their lives with the animals they love.”

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