Urban Chickens Not Welcome In St. Peters
Board of Aldermen votes 7-1 to deny a city code change that would have allowed chickens to be raised within city limits.
Nick Anderson won’t be able to raise chickens in his backyard.
Anderson, a 13-year-old St. Peters resident, saw his five-month quest to change city code so he could raise chickens in his backyard end Thursday night at the St. Peters Board of Aldermen meeting. Following the advice of the Planning and Zoning Commission, the Board denied the city code change bill with a 7-1 vote. Alderman Gus Elliott, Ward 3, was the lone supporter of the urban chicken ordinance.
“I’m sad, disappointed,” Anderson said.
Supporters and opponents came out to speak at the meeting after weeks of buildup to the vote. The Board heard 11 public comments that were pretty evenly split. Those who sided with Anderson and the chickens said the city should reward a kid who has worked hard to get the project done and that chickens are no more of a harm than dogs.
The opposition basically broke into two camps. The first camp was worried about existing neighborhood covenants that prohibit poultry. With city law trumping neighborhood law, the residents were worried about potential lawsuits coming from homeowners who want chickens but aren’t allowed to by covenants.
The other camp was worried about the slippery slope of what could happen. One resident said after chickens, people would want goats, sheep or pigs.
After hearing the complaints, the Board adjusting the agenda for the night and voted on Bill No. 11-62 ahead of schedule. When the votes were cast, only Elliott supported the measure and the chickens were defeated.
Alderman Patrick Barclay, Ward 4, said he voted against the bill after hearing from residents in his ward.
"We had a lot of e-mails and phone calls in the last week since the Bill was put on the agenda," Barclay said. "Almost all of them were against it. ... I don't think, until people came here, I don't think I heard support."
Following the vote, in the Board comment portion of the night, Ward 1 Alderman Dave Thomas said the city wasn’t quite ready for the chickens. Anderson disagreed.
“They say they’re not ready, but I think they are,” Anderson said. “There are a lot worse animals out there than a couple of chickens. I think they’re just scared. They just don’t want to try something new.”
The vote, for now, closes the book on the chicken issue. The urban chickens were hotly debated at the meeting, just as they have been since Anderson first brought the issue to the Board in November.
Anderson requested permission to raise four chickens as part of a home-school project. After finding out it was against the law, Anderson sought out a way to change things. He presented his case to the Board of Aldermen in November.
In February, the Board of Aldermen, Board of Adjustment and Planning and Zoning Commission heard the first plans for a code change. During a presentation at the joint meeting, the city leaders heard a plan to have a permit-based system that would charge residents $40 a year to own no more than four hens. All hens would have to be housed in a coop that met city standards.
After sitting for a few weeks, the Board debated the chicken issue. At the March 10 meeting, several members of the Board spoke out against the chickens based on concerns from residents.
The Planning and Zoning Commission dealt the issues a serious blow at the April meeting. The Commission voted to recommend the Board of Aldermen deny the request. After that request, the Board debated the issue one more time at the April 14 meeting before finally voting down the Bill on Thursday.
Despite the loss, Nick’s father was pleased that the city at least followed through and treated the request seriously.
“I was really appreciative of all the Alderman and everyone at the city taking their time and really putting forth the effort to really look at this,” Rich Anderson said.