On Monday, May 1, the Marlinton Town Council will meet for their regular month-ly meeting. One item on the agenda will be a discussion on a proposed exemption to the town ordinance against having chickens on a residential property.
During a previous meeting it became clear that members of the council are conflicted over the wishes of the citizens of Marlinton. One council member stated “nobody wants chickens…”, while another stated “everybody wants chickens…” Obviously the true fact is some- where in the middle and the council members need to hear from the residents of Marlinton to make an informed decision. I would ask that the residents come to this meeting and voice their opinions, both for and against the concept of changing the town ordinance to allow animals to be kept, such as “backyard chickens.”
One concern many have is the “slippery slope,” which says if we allow one thing, then others will follow. If we allow chickens, then why not goats or pigs or cows on residential lots in the town? That is a reasonable concern, but it can be easily controlled by using a standardized formula called the “lot size to animal type/size calculation.” As an example, it is recommended that a chicken coop should have a minimum of 5 square feet of space for each chicken and an enclosed run should have 10 square feet per bird, but a further recommendation is twice that. These calculations cross all animal types.
That simple formula controls both the number of animals and types of animals.
The next concern is proximity. If one residential property has outdoor animals, of any type, there should be a regulation to protect neighbors.
The nuisance clause. This is a big one, some animals are noisy, some smell. Some owners do not control or maintain their animals, regardless of the type. Part of the ordinance can easily be developed to regulate this. Animals such as roosters and peacocks are well known to be very noisy and heard across long distances.
Costs and permits. This is an area that should exist, after all we have to permit a dog, why not a chicken or goose. We can easily use the rules that have been developed by other communities to regulate this. This helps protect the animal and the residents
Localities all over the country, from the largest cities to the smallest hamlets allow backyard animals. We allow gardens because we like to grow some of our own food. It isn’t cheap to do this, lets face it, getting eggs from your own chickens is not cost effective, but they do taste better and we know exactly where the egg comes from.
People of all ages have begun focusing on living better. We often say that our youth have no idea how things were when we were their age. Perhaps they should learn about where our food comes from, isn’t that what 4-H and FFA are all about? If a person is considering moving to Marlinton, they might be shocked to learn that a very small town in the middle of a National Forest forbids the raising of backyard chickens. Most important, they may want to know that the voices of the residents matter to the governing bodies.
Or perhaps the response is “No” to all of this, and if that is the desires of the residents of Marlinton, then that too must be followed.
Please come to the May council meeting and let your opinion be heard, whether for or against.