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Iowa City moving forward on urban chickens

Gregg Hennigan, CR Gazette –

IOWA CITY – The City Council Tuesday night gave its approval for an ordinance allowing urban chickens to be drawn up.

The council’s unanimous consent, at a work session, does not necessarily mean Iowa City residents will get to keep chickens in their yards. Council members only told staff to move forward in drafting a proposal and did not say whether they were for or against so-called urban or backyard chickens.

Staffers will meet with people who have advocated for urban chickens and draw up a proposed ordinance. That would then go to the Planning and Zoning Commission, which would make a recommendation for the council to vote on.

The council’s conversation did shed some light on a particular aspect of the matter that could generate debate. City Manager Tom Markus is recommending that anyone who wants a chicken permit be required to get the consent of adjacent property owners.

Council members Rick Dobyns, Connie Champion and Jim Throgmorton said they supported neighbors being notified but opposed them having veto power. Dobyns said he’d vote against an ordinance that has that.

The other four council members did not comment on that issue before the discussion moved on. Last week, council member Terry Dickens told The Gazette his support of an ordinance would be dependent on neighbor consent being included.

Markus said he suspected a “creative solution” could be found to resolve the matter.

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