Unfortunately I missed the actual hearing, which I was told was about ten minutes of emotional nay-saying about how dirty and unsafe chickens are, yadda yadda. I don't actually have any say as I'm a resident outside of "town limits" but rather went to support a friend who initiated the proposal that would allow 3 hens. Our town of about 3400 people is nestled in a valley near Antietam Battlefield, about 1 hour from Washington DC. It has a strong agricultural heritage, but like many increasingly developed rural communites surrounding the metropolitan area, it has experienced growing pains. I come from generations of city and even suburban folks and while I carry pretty progressive ideas and strong opinions, I like the independent rural "lifestyle" (ie busting butt in all kinds of weather) and generally get along really well with people of all stripes. Of course I love the birds and want to share the enthusiasm. One progressive ideal that doesn't seem to fly in this town, at least with the "civic minded" folks who bothered to show up at this hearing, is critical thinking. People were not interested in knowing any facts or hearing any evidence to draw any rational conclusions regarding chickens. Their decisions were based on emotions and there was no getting past it. They circled the wagons. "We don't have to give you a reason. It's our town and that's how we like it. If you want chickens, move out." Whenever they were asked questions, they would retort"How long have you lived here?" I heard that at least half a dozen times, as if "seniority" should actually be of the utmost importance in making decisions for the well being of a whole town. I don't think the issue of chickens was at the heart. It's that people are afraid of change, of giving up their little bit of power in their status quo. And thus the fiesty old lady was ready to come to blows with me, which is funny because I'm such a non fighting kind of person (though very strong and well versed in a number of restraints from my old job). She kept putting down outsiders like me and insisting change would NEVER come to this town. After enough of her agitations, posturing and veiled threats I couldn't help but parry back to her weak spot. I pointed out that she shouldn't say "never" because I was a whole lot younger and she was just an ignorant old hag. She was fit to be tied after that. Some younger female who was with her (and at least as narrow minded, comparing ordinances against chickens with ordinances against homicide) stepped in front of the old bat, but almost as much in solidarity as to prevent blows from flying. I'm gathering this character has a reputation because she flagged down the sheriff, who asked her what she was into this time. She claimed I called her a b**** and was almost hysterical, fortunately he was reasonable and I didn't have to say anything. This experience was disappointing on a few counts. I'm not sure of what hope there is any time soon for my friend and others in town to have chickens. The decision makers in town are pretty entrenched and I don't know enough "townies" to know where to try to exert influence. But there's something more insidious than that. I've lived in this area for 11 years. I was a little nervous when I first came about encountering stereotypical small town attitues. My actual experience was anything but, and I've met wonderful locals as well as urban expatriates. This belies a creepy underside, where the ruling elite are saying you and your kind are not really welcome here.