Chickens photo

You may soon find your neighbor raising chickens. Or geese or turkeys or even quail.

Without dissent, the Senate Committee on Government and Environment approved legislation Monday to override most city restrictions on raising all sorts of fowl.

SB 1151 would let cities establish limits on the total number of animals any property owner could have. Male versions like roosters and peacocks could be banned entirely unless they've been rendered incapable of making any noises.

But an outright ban like exists in some cities would be nullified, and restrictions on the placement of pens near property lines — and other people's homes — also would be forbidden.

Sen. David Farnsworth, R-Mesa, said his legislation essentially amounts to allowing Arizonans to get back to their roots.

“We all pretty much come from farming backgrounds,” he told colleagues.

“Many of our ancestors raised their own food and had animals which helped us with enjoyment and also food,” Farnsworth explained. “As our society changes, many of us moved to the big city and lost the flavor of the home-town freedom that we once had.”

The move came over the objection of Patrice Kraus, lobbyist for the city of Chandler.

Kraus said her community has always had a ban on fowl. She said a decision was made just last year to keep that after two hearings and the council believing that the property rights of adjacent homeowners who might not want to be next door to someone raising fowl, whether for eggs or meat.

Sen. Kelli Ward, R-Lake Havasu City, said she believes that barking dogs are much louder and more annoying than the peeping sounds of chickens. Mesa resident Galen Luth said chickens whose wings are clipped don't jump fences “like cats do and do their business in your sandbox or your garden.”

But Kraus said this isn't a matter of just chickens. She said the wording of SB 1151 permits turkeys, ducks and geese, all of which could be far louder.

Farnsworth, however, said nothing in his legislation overrules existing city “nuisance” ordinances dealing with noise or smell.

The measure still needs approval of the full Senate before going to the House.

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