An ordinance that would allow Helper City residents to own chickens within city limits was discussed at the Helper Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Wednesday evening.
Those in favor and against the potential ordinance were in attendance. With no scheduled business to discuss, Zoning Administrator Tom Paluso welcomed those in the room to voice their concerns or opinions regarding the ordinance.
Those in opposition were in agreement on one major issue: enforcement.
“There will be nobody to police it,” said one Helper resident who wished to remain nameless. “I am totally against it.”
The nays were worried that police officers would not be able to keep up with those who will not comply with the ordinance. An ordinance officer was discussed as a possible solution. Mayor Ed Chavez was present at the meeting and said there is no money in the budget to fund a full-time officer dedicated to enforcing all ordinances within Helper City. Another idea mentioned was to have electric meter readers check while on their monthly routes to see if those who possess chicken licenses were in compliance.
Helper resident Emily Sanders, who proposed the ordinance to the commission in March, then stood at the lectern and explained her reasoning in drafting the ordinance. In her research regarding the topic, Sanders contacted multiple municipalities throughout the state and gathered information regarding their respective chicken ordinances. She explained to those in attendance that similar ordinances are in effect in Salt Lake and Utah counties, as well as in places such as New York City, Chicago, and Portland.
Sanders also mentioned that some Helper residents already own chickens within city limits and that little to no complaints have ever been made to law enforcement officials concerning them.
“The chickens are not going to say ‘hey, we’re legal, let’s go crazy,'” she said in response to concerns about chickens potentially becoming a nuisance to neighbors.
Near the end of the meeting, newly appointed Helper City Board of Health member Steven Knight proposed that the board take on the responsibility of enforcement of the ordinance, thus alleviating the burden on police officers. The Helper City Council organized the board of health in January 2013.
After a brief discussion regarding possible ways board members could help in enforcing the ordinance, those in opposition seemed to soften their stance.
Commission members then voted on the ordinance, which passed with a majority vote. The ordinance will now be presented to the Helper City Council in an upcoming meeting for approval or otherwise.