Chicken issue generates squabbles at Craig City Council meeting



Jeremy Looper

In other action ...

During its regular Tuesday meeting, the Craig City Council:

• Approved, 5-0, a special events permit for a beer garden at the Moffat County Fairgrounds as requested by American Legion Post 62.

• Approved, 5-0, renewal of the 3.2-percent beer retail liquor license for City Market No. 15 at 505 W. Victory Way.

• Approved, 5-0, a supplemental budget request for wastewater treatment repairs

• Tabled discussion of an introduction to Ordinance 1015, licensing pawnbrokers in the City of Craig.

— Mayor Terry Carwile and council member Byron Willems were absent.

Before Jeremy Looper addressed Craig City Council, some adjustments had to be made to the microphone.

Looper, an 11-year-old Craig resident and member of Boy Scouts Troop No. 172, could barely see over the podium. After some deliberation, City Manager Jim Ferree decided to hold the microphone so Looper could be heard.

Looper attended the council’s regular Tuesday meeting to discuss the ordinance that prohibits chickens within city limits. Several members of the audience spoke for and against chickens, and the council weighed in on the issue, too.

As introduction, Looper said he has always wanted to raise chickens and his attendance at the city council meeting will help him earn a Citizenship in the Community Merit Badge through the Boy Scouts.

During his presentation, Looper outlined what he believes are the benefits of owning chickens:

• Fresh eggs are better, he contends.

• Chickens help reduce food waste because the omnivorous birds will eat table scraps.

• Chickens are a cheap source of fertilizer.

• Chickens help keep lawns trimmed.

• They are low-maintenance pets.

Looper listed other Colorado communities that allow the fowl – Steamboat Springs, Denver and more.

After Looper’s presentation, several community members approached the podium to speak their peace.

Craig resident Devin Jurgensen said she opposes chickens in town.

“My father-in-law lived out by Loudy-Simpson and he had (chickens),” she said. “Flies come along with their waste.”

Jurgensen said chickens are incompatible with city life.

“If I wanted chickens, I’d live out in the country,” she said. “I chose to live in the city so I don’t have that nuisance.”

Next, Craig resident Susan Domer spoke on behalf of chickens.

“I have done a lot of reading, I’ve grown up around chickens,” Domer said. “Chickens are as dirty as their owners are.

“You can have a good, clean chicken coop if you clean it every day.”

Domer said four or five chickens is a reasonable number, and the birds are well behaved.

“They don’t bite mailmen, they don’t bark all night long and they don’t chase the neighborhood children,” she said.

Craig resident Bobbi Grove also grew up with chickens, she said.

Her memories of the birds are not so fond.

“They bring a world of bugs,” she said. “The bugs go into your houses. They go everywhere.

“(Chickens) smell god-awful. And, no, they don’t bark, but they do cackle. And anybody who walks within ten feet of them knows that, because they do scatter and scream.”

Grove said she respected Looper’s involvment in local government, but she questioned his sincerity.

“What the little guy is saying is all well and good, but mostly he wants a badge,” she said. “I have to admire that, but I don’t have to buy it.”

Cindy Looper, Jeremy’s mother, rose to the podium next.

“I just want to make one correction,” she said. “The badge does not require Jeremy to talk to you. It just requires him to be here (at a city council meeting).”

Next, individual council members voiced their opinions.

Councilor Don Jones recalled a time before the current ordinance.

“Thirty years ago, we used to have chickens in Craig,” he said. “Everybody in town had chickens”

Jones said the town also had a large contingent of skunks during that time.

“Skunks love chicken eggs,” he said. “We got rid of the chickens and we had a big skunk drive. The sheriff’s posse went up and down the alleys, and I don’t know how many hundreds of skunks were shot during those two months of driving.”

Jones said he agrees with Looper that fresh eggs are better.

“But, there is also a place for the chickens. And, for me, that’s not within the City of Craig,” Jones said.

Council member Gene Bilodeau said dog owners provide an easy analogy to potential chicken owners.

“We have people in the community that do an exceptional job of taking care of their dogs,” he said. “And, we have, in my mind, an inordinate amount of people who do not take care of their dogs.

“I guess I’m real leery.”

Council member Joe Bird said he had performed an Internet search during the discussion.

“I just Googled ‘things that eat chickens,’” he said. “There’s a long list that comes up, and about 90 percent of which call Craig or this county…their home.

“What’s going to come into town because you have live bait?”

Bird cited badgers, mountain lions, foxes and wolves as potential predators of domestic chickens, and wondered what might happen if those wild animals make contact with people.

“That might sound extreme, but I’m more for making sure we’re protecting the citizens of Craig, and not the ability to house (chickens).”

Council member Jennifer Riley said she is not a proponent of introducing chickens to Craig. And, she acknowledges the subject has the potential to divide people.

“My own household is a divided household on this issue,” she said. “Some of us want chickens and some of us don’t. One of us votes on City Council, one of us doesn’t.

“Obviously people are passionate on both sides. I do appreciate the comments and I look forward to the oncoming debate that I’m sure we’ll have.”

Riley said the issue would be addressed again at the next council meeting on Aug. 9. She encouraged Craig residents to attend.

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justmyview84 5 years, 9 months ago

Aside from the "issue" I would like to say good job to Jeremy for being active in our community. Not many kids his age would even want to sit at a council meeting, let alone speak about something he believes in. I'm sure there are other ways of getting that badge, but good for him that he made the choice to speak, not many youngsters in this town care about how this town works, let alone want to participate. This is about a learning experience for a young man who might one day be involved in the more pressing issues in this town/country. I hoped he learned a lot and continues to be passionate about his beliefs and continues to think deeper.


lostyermarbles 5 years, 9 months ago

ranger520, you have that right. If anyone has walked the ally's around town and about jumped out of your hide at the big bored, neglected dogs that come out and jump on the fence and make you jump I have to wonder, if the neighbor has chickens how's that going to go?? More fights more calls for police. I have chickens and live in the county and had a rooster that absolutly drove me crazy, now how would that go in town?? And they 'pop up' in your batch if you don't know what your doing. Ever see the add's for free rooster's?? I wouldn't want to live next to them that close. And yes chickens take care as do dog's and they don't always get what they need besides 'there'. I think this issue would just compound a problem already with the dog call's they get, ever count those?? Yes there would be responsible owners but from the looks of the dogs in the back yards that just bark and never leave it makes you wonder if this can of worms is worth it.


oldglory 5 years, 9 months ago

I do not see a difference between allowing some animals and not others. If you are going to be putting restrictions on what animals people can't have, how about we ban pitbulls like the ones that attacked the high school teacher? It's all about personal freedoms and personal responsibilities folks. If you don't want chickens, don't get them. Easy as that, but what gives you the right to tell your nieghbor what they can or cannot do on thier own property? I think the mountain lions coming into town for a few chickens is quite a stretch. And as far as the comment about living in the city, this is a rural city. It's not Denver or Grand Junction, it's Craig. That's what a lot of people love about Craig, is that it still has that small town feel to it.


native_craig_guy 5 years, 9 months ago

I agree with Oldglory. Personal Freedoms are at the top of this list. Chickens are no more obnoxious than most people's dogs. Owning a pet is a responsibility and people should be deal with the consequences of their freedoms. If they want to drive a car, they must get insurance and pay registration, if they want to own a chicken they should simply take care of it and ensure that they don't disrupt their neighbors. If a particular neighborhood doesn't want chickens, they should start up an HOA and ban them. (BTW- an HOA would also prevent all the junk piling up in people's yards). Chickens are the least of our worries. Ugly homes and trashy junk piled yards are more of a nuisance than any future McNuggets.


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