NORTH OGDEN -- It's looking like all residents in North Ogden will be able to have fresh eggs from their own chickens before long.
The city council has directed the planning commission to come up with an ordinance allowing for raising chickens in all single-family residential zones instead of just the two agricultural zones where chickens are allowed now.
The direction comes after resident Melanie Rohde approached the council about being able to have chickens in all residential zones. The council listened to comments from residents and then discussed the issue at its Nov. 30 meeting.
Community Development Director Craig Barker researched other cities' policies on chickens and found varying ordinances.
"It really goes across the whole spectrum," Barker explained. He told the council it basically came down to what they want, based on feedback from residents.
Rohde explained her reasoning.
"I think it's a good idea and nice to have your own source and be more self-reliant," Rohde said. She did a little research and found that chickens are no noisier than dogs or cats.
"They are fun and neat and interesting for kids," Rohde said. She said chickens don't take up a lot of space, most of the time not more than the space of a small shed.
Resident Dave Hulme said his only concern would be if they were to get into other neighbors' yards. He explained that had happened to him with neighbors' chickens and it was a problem. Rohde said chickens can have their wings clipped, which would eliminate that problem.
Hulme, who sits on the planning commission, also advised that prohibiting the sale of the eggs might be a good policy.
Council members also said if an ordinance is passed it would be strict enough that the chickens would have to stay in the backyard and not be able to roam free in front yards or in the streets.
Resident Joel Grassmeyer listed several reasons it would be good for all residents to be able to raise chickens.
"You can be sure your eggs are safe," he said, referring to the salmonella scare in California earlier this year.
"It also reduces food miles from farm to plate ... it's a healthier lifestyle, and they taste better," he said.
Many who spoke suggested that the ordinance only include hens and not roosters, to keep the noise factor in check.
One resident suggested charging a fee for the chickens, like a licensing fee that residents pay for cats or dogs. Many also said insect control was a positive for having chickens available all over in North Ogden.
"I'm all for this as well," said Councilman Wade Bigler. "I don't see any negative to it."
Councilman Carl Turner agreed, but said the ordinance needs to be worded very carefully to avoid unintended consequences, such as residents wanting to raise pheasants or other types of fowl.
Councilman Brent Taylor also was in favor, but said the planning commission and staff need to do its due diligence to come up with an ordinance that would cover all the bases, such as fencing, number of chickens and any other issues that could be considered a public nuisance.
The council expects to vote on an ordinance in early 2011.