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Dardenne Prairie Council amends ordinance in favor of chickens

For now, chickens can go about the business of being chickens in much of Dardenne Prairie as long as they and their owners don’t run afoul of their neighbors.

The city’s Board of Aldermen agreed at its Aug. 19 meeting to amend its municipal code to delete a provision that prohibits chickens and certain animals like pigeons, doves, duck and geese on parcels of land smaller than 3 acres.

The 5-1 vote resolves a conflict in the city code that occurred from zoning regulations allowing chickens and other animals as a permitted use in the city’s R-1A residential zoning district for properties 1 acre or larger. Having chickens is not an identified use in residential lots less than 1 acre. Alderman Dan Koch (Ward 3) cast the lone no vote.

Rather than change the zoning regulations, the board opted to delete the 3-acre requirement and address the issue only if the city receives more complaints.

Alderman John Gotway (Ward 3), who researched the issue and checked the city of Creve Coeur’s chicken control ordinance, didn’t favor tinkering with the zoning ordinance for now.

“We can work this out reasonably, more intelligently, give it more time as problems come up, if they come up,” Gotway told the board during a work session before its regular meeting.

“I would agree with John in thinking that going forward we would be putting the chicken before the egg,” said Alderman Blake Nay (Ward 2), which drew a gentle laugh from the board and audience. “I couldn’t help it.”

Mayor Dave Zucker said it was just the beginning for the puns.

“They are going to be rolling down the chute all night,” he said.

Puns, however, were limited. While acknowledging that chickens may not be the top priority for the city now, Zucker said the issue raised strong opinions among residents “that are underpinned by philosophical differences” about the role of government.

For all the years chickens were unregulated, the city has not had problems with noise or odor and with them running loose, Zucker said.  Stricter regulations may require inspections and regulations that the city would have to fund, he said.

“That’s an argument for not creating an enforcement mechanism that puts the healthy hand of government on the necks of citizens without a compelling reason,” Zucker said.

Once there are problems that are not hypothetical, then the city could adopt appropriate regulations, he added. If someone gets guinea hens, known to be noisy, “we’ll be back here with an ordinance.”

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