The Logan Municipal Council has spent the past several weeks debating proposed guidelines for livestock in residential areas, and the proposal has upset some citizens.
Kim Johansen is resident of the Ellis neighborhood and a chicken owner herself. She is also a part of a chicken-raising group on Facebook and has helped pass out fliers to alert other animal owners across town.
Since guidelines haven’t been in place for residential agriculture, many have accumulated livestock — from goats and chickens to even llamas and sheep — without knowing it wasn’t permitted in NR2 and NR6 residential zones. Only those who owned animals in residential areas prior to June 7, 2000 will be considered for grandfathering if Ordinance 21-22 passes.
“Everyone was just shocked. Like, you can’t have chickens here?” Johansen said of learning that her animals technically aren’t allowed under city ordinances. “For it to be such a nope, a black-and-white nope, kinda scared me. They are our pets and I know we can’t keep saying that, but they are. We love them very much. That’s what’s hard.”
Johansen said that she doesn’t find it fair that large dogs can be kept in apartments, but she can’t have a goat that lives in a fenced in yard.
“If you just saw my yard, you’d see that they have enough room. Jack (her goat) is just as lovable and cuddly as a dog,” she added.
The ordinance would establish minimum standards for keeping domestic fowl, bees and livestock in residential areas with the hope to minimize negative impacts, such as smell or noise, on adjoining properties. The proposal, presented by Mike DeSimone, director of community development, hoped to “balance the rights and desires of all landowners.”
DeSimone also said that Logan did not have any current guidelines in place, calling it the “wild, wild West.” The Planning Commission looked at the regulations of other cities to form the proposed guidelines for Logan.
Johansen said the amount of residential land needed to raise chickens isn’t exactly cut-and-dried.
“I believe that if you did a little more research you wouldn’t find chickens that were studied in a lab kind of situation,” Johansen said. “It’s more like, ‘With all the chickens you have ever owned you’ll find a consensus agreement from ags, from veterinarians, from books that say chickens need this much space.’ I don’t think you’re gonna find an equation.”
Ordinance 21-22 was first introduced as a workshop item on Oct. 5. A public hearing was held on Oct. 19.
Michael Timmons, a resident of the Hillcrest neighborhood, expressed his concern about living near neighbors with livestock.
“I always assumed animal control policies were in place in Logan … and it’s clear regulations are necessary,” he said. “I’m not opposed to small-scale chicken coops or maybe a beehive, but to my sense, the way the ordinance is drafted has gone way overboard, allowing what I would say are mini farms.”
Timmons added that he moved to Hillcrest because he didn’t want to live next to a barnyard.
“It only takes three or four to change the quality of our neighborhood, and rather than waking up to songbirds in the morning, we’ll be waking up to goats and cows and other kinds of rural sounds,” he said.
Another Logan resident, Laverna Horne, reminded the council about the reasons why someone might be keeping livestock.
“I appreciate the work Mike has gone through to find a balance between those who would like to have animals in the backyard, whether it be feathers or stingers or fur … it’s not an easy balance to find,” she said. “I think that as we are looking at these numbers, it’s important to keep in mind that people who have backyard flocks are looking to have eggs for their family but also to have a pet.”
Originally the proposal stated that lots over 6,000 square feet could have five chickens, slowly increasing up to 15 for those with a lot over 20,000 square feet. Since many who expressed concern about their chickens had smaller lots with more chickens, the council decided to step back and take another look at how many chickens should be allowed per lot size.
One of the proposed options was one chicken per 1,000 square feet, increasing from six all the way to 25. During the Nov. 2 meeting, DeSimone proposed another option, the animal equivalent unit, which classifies animals by size and uses a formula to state how many animals could be allowed per lot size.
Although Johansen appreciates that DeSimone and the council have been discussing changes to the proposal, she said she was upset that DeSimone didn’t originally reach out to chicken owners when he did speak with bee owners.
“This is our chance to educate,” she said, “and do it from a kindness point of way.”
Johansen said that DeSimone eventually joined the chicken-raising Facebook group and has been communicating with chicken owners to work out numbers.
“If it’s going to pass, let’s work on the numbers,” Johansen added. “I’m gonna keep fighting for my right to have chickens, but it does make me go, what else are they passing or how else can I be involved? I think I need to listen a bit more.”
Vice Chair Jeannie Simmonds told concerned residents that even if the ordinance passed, the council and City of Logan would not be going around looking for chickens but rather handle enforcement on a complaint basis.
“If no one complains, we’re never gonna know that,” Simmonds said. “We’re not taking them away, but if you don’t have it written down, there’s no way your neighbor can come to the city and say ‘You’re impacting my quality of life, please do something.’”
The discussion of the ordinance is currently set to continue at the Nov. 16 Municipal Council meeting.
Proposed Ordinance 21-22 can be read in full on Logan’s website, loganutah.org, under council agendas and packets.