In a written objection, the Adams County Commissioners prevented the Howard family from owning chickens.
The objection read:
“…On behalf of the taxpayers and citizens of Adams County who own the county property located at 602 Adams Avenue, we feel it is in the best interest of all, to oppose the granting of a permit to allow chickens within the city limits and especially in residential or business areas of Hettinger.”
Roughly seven months ago, Luke Howard and his mother, Kerri Howard, approached the Hettinger City Council with the request of wanting to own chickens in his back yard. The first time Luke, a 15 year old, approached the council, it was illegal to own chickens within city limits. To make in-town chicken ownership legal, Luke compiled research on ordinances from other towns that allowed chickens within city limits and made a proposal to the council.
“I just want to sell eggs to add to my allowance,” said Luke.
In response to Howard’s proposal, the council created the Animals and Fowl ordinance for chicken ownership in August of 2018. After seven months of pleading with the city council, even with the new ordinance, the Howards still have not been able to possess chickens in town.
The Howards argue that the Animals and Fowl ordinance passed in August is still too restrictive and that the process for owning chickens is not reasonably attainable. Since August, the ordinance has gone through revisions. However the issue still remains that the ordinance is too restrictive for the Howards.
“Right now we still can’t raise chickens because we built our coop on the edge of our yard and technically the coop can’t be within 20 feet of our neighbors property. Also we had to get permission from a lot of neighbors,” said Luke Howard
The chapter 11 Animals and Fowl Ordinance 2018-3 states that applicants for a chicken permit must send notice to all the property owners within 300 feet of their fowl intentions. For perspective, 100 yards is just shy of the length of a football field.
“Within 300 feet is not something I would consider adjacent,” said Luke.
To meet the ordinance specification, the Howards sent written notices to 23 adjacent property owners surrounding their house and one to the Adams County commissioner office.
If the Howards did not receive any written objections to possess chickens, they should be eligible for a permit. However, in this months’ City Council meeting the Howards were presented with a written objection from the Adams County Commission.
“The county commissioner’s objection letter doesn’t list any specific reasons as to why they are opposed,” said Kerri Howard.
Because there was written opposition, the City Council decided to table the discussion for another month to allow time for both Kerri and Luke to meet with the Adams County Commissioners and get the written opposition overturned.
Even though both Kerri and Luke were disappointed that they would have to wait another month to get the problem solved, they still presented the City Council with cups of coffee.
“We do appreciate all your good time and effort and doing this rather thankless job,” said Kerri as she passed out cups of coffee to the City Council members, “Don’t worry, you would have gotten the coffee even if you said yes, so don’t think it’s poisoned or anything.”
Both Kerri and Luke plan to attend the next County Commissioner Meeting to attempt to overturn the written objection.
The Adams County Commissioner Meetings are open to the public, so anyone interested in following their chicken quest may attend. However if someone cannot make it to the meeting they can always share their input by contacting the local courthouse at 701-567-4363.