Chicken Debate Dominates Talk of Animal Code Changes in G.I. - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Chicken Debate Dominates Talk of Animal Code Changes in G.I.

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Proposed changes to the city of Grand Island's animal code could mean harsher penalties and higher fines for nuisance owners.

But, at Tuesday's study session, chickens dominated the conversation.

Nearly 20 people sat in the crowd.

The majority of those who spoke told the council they want to have chickens in the city for various reasons: eggs, having them as pets, or teaching kids responsibility. Some even said that Grand Island needs to be progressive and join larger cities in an urban chicken movement.

Currently, four hens are allowed per one acre of property within the city limits.

The proposed change would allow eight hens on a lot of any size.

Officials said this would help clear up confusion that sometimes leads to animal control officers measuring properties.

A few people did speak against the change.

Council members also voiced their concerns and what they say they're hearing from other G.I. residents.

"Really from a public health aspect I feel like the one acre thing, that's ok, but next to me in a city lot is not ok," said Councilwoman Peg Gilbert.

"I have two ducks and two chickens of my own. I got them before I realized that I wasn't allowed to so they spent the first few months in the house. Then I was lucky enough to find a farm close by that I was able to rent some space at, but I would really like to have them back," said Joshua Harris, a Grand Island resident.

Harris said his birds are like pets. He joined others who told the council that, with responsible ownership, smells and noise shouldn't be a problem.

During the two hour study session, there was talk of reducing the proposal from eight to four chickens.

Roosters still would not be allowed within the city limits.

The debate includes the entire animal code.

It's expected that the council will take the issue up for a vote at next week's meeting.

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