Ogden, Utah – US Army veteran told to remove his chickens in 15 days
“Keeping fowl (chicken and rooster) in the City Limits not allowed. Need to remove and call when they are gone.”
By Terrence E. MacArthur
Sept 6, 2012
I am a totally and permanently disabled US Army veteran. I got married last year. This July, after years of struggling to be able to, I bought a home in Ogden. I had a half dozen chickens at the place where I was living before. We get eggs from them. It cost me over $300 to build a small chicken coop for them at the new house. The chickens are not cheap either. I have Americuna, Speckled Sussex, and Lavender Orpingtons. The latter are extremely rare in the US. Chicks cost over $20 if you can find them.
I am trying to go to college right now, and it is not easy both because of health and financial issues (my GI bill benefits were from the Vietnam war and expired in 1980, so no help there). Although we do not save tons of money by having our own eggs, it does help.
I talked to someone at the city and was given the excuse that there have been people found with chickens in a 1,000 square foot yard, with the chickens living in old tires, so it is open to abuse. And that the ordnance has existed for 45 years. Bullshit. Longevity does not make it right. Was slavery right because it was hundreds of years old?
This was a law passed in the ’60s by some politicians who thought that having any farm-associated types of animals inside the city was bad for the city’s image.
My chickens are well cared for. They live in a large enclosed area, and bother no one. I went off and fought for this country, was wounded, and now cannot work. And now Ogden will not let me even raise my own eggs? If one was to bet that the fat cat politicians who passed that law all had draft deferments, one would have a pretty good chance of winning the bet.
I never had any problems at the other house. Obviously, someone here complained. Based on what neighbors have told me, it was probably a real estate agent. The house next door is a HUD repossession, and the agent trying to get it sold was overheard talking to someone about my having chickens and saying he was going to call the city.
Apparently, I have only 15 days to “abate” the problem or the city will cite me. Even if I had the $125 to pay the fine, then they’d cite me again, at a cost of $250, and it’d go up from there. I sure don’t have any money for a lawyer.
More from Terrence.
I have 6 hens, 2 Speckled Sussex, 2 Americuna and 2 Lavendar Orpingtons, and a Lavendar Orpington Rooster. One pic shows myself, a couple of the chickens, and a part of the coop I just built 3 weeks ago for them. The one I’m holding is one of the Americunas. The other pic is of the Lavendar Orpington Rooster. In the pic, you can see less than 1/4 of the area that they have to run around in during the day. The entire area is fenced, although it doesn’t show in the picture. The fence is right at the tree line. Unfortunately, I had to clip their wings to keep them from being able to fly over the fence. I know it doesn’t hurt them or anything, but I just hate to do anything unnatural to any animal. Although, again, you can’t see it in the pics, there’s an irrigation ditch around 3 sides of the property, which is flooded every 6 1/2 days from the Spring into the Fall, and the chickens just love it.
These chickens are not bothering anyone. Lavendar Orpington roosters are a very quiet type of rooster which seldom crow and, when they do, it is not very loud. The back yard cannot even be seen from the street or the sidewalk. All the neighbors think they’re great. The fact that we get more eggs than we can use, and are always giving people free eggs from free range, organically fed, chickens probably helps that. But some busybody complained to the city of Ogden, which forbids the keeping of chickens within city limits. I suspect it was a real estate agent who is trying to sell the HUD-repossessed house next door, who was taking pictures of it a week or so ago, and who was overheard talking about my chickens. All of the cities and towns in Salt Lake county, around Salt Lake City, which is about 45 miles south of here, and which hold something like 60 or 70 percent of the total population of Utah, have in the past few years been amending their codes specifically to allow chickens. But not Ogden. In the late ’60s, the city apparently thought that having “farm-type” animals inside the city was bad for the city’s image, so they outlawed them. And they still think that way, despite the change in attitude about this in the rest of the US, including in most of Utah.
I have only until the 23rd of September to “abate” the “violation”, meaning get rid of my chickens, or get a $125 citation. After that, the next one is $250, then $500, and the possibility of criminal charges. Not to mention, at any time during the process, the possibility of the city taking them and disposing of them, and then charging me for having stolen and killed my birds. I live on a disabled veteran’s pension, and cannot possibly pay fines like that. A probably bigger problem is that, unless they manage to sneak in and do it when nobody is home, I will NOT let them take my chickens, and I fear that will end up with me in jail.
When, after some 3 years of sacrifice and struggle, I managed to qualify for a mortgage, I spent almost 3 months looking for a house. The reason it took so long was that the main requirement was a large back yard, specifically so that my chickens would have a nice place to live. Of course, none of the real estate people bothered telling me that chickens were not allowed here. If they had, I would not have bought the place, and would have insisted on something outside the city limits. For example, Harrisville, which is maybe a dozen blocks away, does allow chickens. Now, I am stuck here. I have a mortgage which is very nearly the full value of the house. I just don’t have any money with which to pay it down so that I could quickly sell it. Even if I did, there’s no way I could manage it before the citations and fines start. I cannot possibly pay for a lawyer to fight this. If anyone knows of any way to help me, please let me know right away. My email is email@example.com.
Terrence E. MacArthur