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More people in Pottawattamie County could get chickens in their yards

Posted at 7:59 PM, Sep 16, 2022

POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY, Iowa. (KMTV) — Pottawattamie County leaders are seeing resurgences in organic farming and smaller farms.

Over the past five years, Pottawattamie County Planning and Development Director Matt Wyant has had a number of residents contact him about having chickens in their yards and homes.

That's why he proposed an "urban chicken ordinance." It's for those who live on less than an acre of pasture and other . A permit would let them have up to 12 chickens.

The catch: All neighbors need to sign on to the permit application, and it doesn't include roosters.

"Some of them, they like to have chickens as pet," Wyant said. "There are some pretty decorative chickens out there, others want to get the eggs, others raise them for the butchering possibilities of it."

Beka Doolittle can speak to the benefits of having chickens in the yard. An Elkhorn resident, she convinced her husband to build a chicken coop almost six years ago. She calls chickens the "best thing" her family decided to do.

"They eat all the bugs, we really don't have a big bug problem in our backyard at all," Doolittle said.

They can also use the chickens' bedding as compost for the garden for fall and winter months.

But county leader Justin Schultz isn't too keen on the idea.

"I never in my time as supervisor, in 7.5 years, thought I'd be dealing so much with chickens," Schultz said.

One of Schultz's biggest issues with it: Inspectors would have to verify if the coops are set up correctly and all regulations are followed.

"There's a lot of folks who feel the local government should stay out of their business, as a supervisor, I represent those people too," Schultz said.

But Doolittle says a good flock shouldn't ruffle too many feathers.

"If somebody wants to go into chickens, do it, do it right in respect to your neighbors, I think that's really important," Doolittle said.

This week, the Board of Supervisors approved moving the ordinance forward. They'll consider it again next week. It will also cost money to apply for a permit and the fee will be set at the next board meeting.

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