OGDEN — Roosters? Apparently, folks around here are saying “Yes, please.”
But chickens? Not so much.
This past week, Roosters Brewing Company held a groundbreaking ceremony for a new 13,000-square-foot production brewery on the west side of town. The Standard-Examiner’s Mitch Shaw reports that the planned development, called B Street Brewery, will be built near the intersection of Exchange Road and B Avenue — an area that, historically, was home to Ogden’s booming livestock industry.
The new facility will be built on the site of what was once a Purina Dog Chow plant, and will feature a “quick bites menu,” a tap room and an outdoor amphitheater and dining area
Roosters has long been a popular brewpub in downtown Ogden, and it has since expanded to Layton. This new production brewery is eagerly anticipated — and not just by beer-drinkers, either. City officials have been crowing over the addition of a successful business to an area that was long vacant and blighted.
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As excited as the city seems to be about Roosters, it doesn’t seem to share that enthusiasm for chickens. Ogden is only one of three fun-hating Weber County cities — South Ogden and Washington Terrace being the others — that prohibit backyard chickens.
Not that it’s been stopping anybody. City officials guesstimate there are between 100 and 200 residents with bootleg backyard chickens. That includes John and Liz Christiansen, leaders of the grassroots organization Ogden Chicken Alliance. The couple has been a sort of modern-day Moses, beseeching the pharaohs at city hall to “let my chickens go.”
Last month, Ogden Planning Commission member Cathy Blaisdell said she worried that the backyard fowl “don’t fit with the future vision of Ogden that boosters are trying to project.”
The future vision of Ogden? Firstly, being a huge proponent of buffalo wings, fried eggs and the like, I’m just not sure I want to live in a world where chickens aren’t welcomed in our community with open wings. Because the only thing that could possibly make chickens more hallowed is if they also gave us bacon.
And secondly, I think backyard chickens would be exactly the sort of unconventional image desired for a town whose motto is “Still Untamed.”
Unless you’d prefer something like “Ogden: Surprisingly Henpecked.”
Besides, you know what’s even more annoying than someone who keeps chickens? Someone who owns pigeons — which actually leave their owner’s property and land on neighbors’ railings and rain gutters and relieve themselves everywhere.
And apparently, THAT’S not illegal in Ogden.
The Great Chicken Debate has been ruffling feathers for years now, with folks on both sides of the issue flocking to various meetings and basically getting madder than a wet hen. Hard-boiled Standard-Examiner reporter Tim Vandenack has been all over the story like a chicken mite on a Rhode Island Red, scratching in the dirt and combing the records to keep readers informed.
Proponents of backyard chickens hatched the idea that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet, while opponents are clucking that if the city chooses to wing it on this whole issue the sky will certainly be falling.
For their part, city officials say they don’t want to end up with egg on their face, so they’re being careful not to put all of their eggs into one basket. These officials have been walking on eggshells as they try not to egg on the cooped up anger among residents.
Of course, all of this simply makes the city appear as if it’s running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
There you have it, people. Your humble columnist just laid an egg by putting a record number of really terrible chicken puns and idioms into one of his columns — columns in which such wordplay ordinarily is scarcer than hen’s teeth.
But seriously, folks, it’s looking like the urban chicken issue is about to come to a head, with the city council scheduling a vote for Dec. 19.
The most intriguing part in all of this? It’s hard to believe a city in Utah — home of the “Zion Curtain” and other liquor laws that make even the South look sane by comparison — would exhibit less heartburn over a brewery that produces the demon drink than a chicken that lays the incredible, edible egg.
I guess I just never thought I’d see the day when Utahns were more concerned about their neighbors’ cholesterol levels than their blood-alcohol content.
And that’s no yolk.
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Finally, a brief salute to one of the best writers and editors I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. After more than three decades of working at the Standard-Examiner, veteran journalist Vanessa Zimmer’s last day was Friday. Like far too many in this industry, she was an unfortunate victim of the latest restructuring at the newspaper.
She’ll undoubtedly be furious with me for this shout-out — as she’s an extremely private person who has always preferred to keep the focus on the stories we tell — but I just can’t help myself.
I had the pleasure of working closely with Vanessa for almost all of her 32 years here, and I can testify that her commitment, passion and dedication to the job were second to none.
She will be dearly missed.