Westminster, Colorado Underground Chicken Movement

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by ChickenSoup82, May 13, 2008.

  1. ChickenSoup82

    ChickenSoup82 In the Brooder

    May 13, 2008
    I am trying to contact the Backyard Chicken Underground in Westminster, Colorado. I live in a residential area and would like to keep chickens in my backyard but it is illegal. I want to try to get a change to happen in the law to allow for chickens in the backyard. I actually get my chics in today hopefully and I am worried that animal control will be at the post office waiting for me with hand-cuffs. I have my brooder all set up and I hope that I can get them home ok. I have .25 acre lot, which isn't much but it is enough to keep a few chickens. My yard is on the corner and everyone that drives down the street has clear views into my lot so it wouldn't take long to get discovered. I am trying to put together a presentation for city council and could use some support to get permission at least for my property even if I can't change the law. It is frustrating because Jefferson County doesn't have an ordinance against it, Denver and Arvada allow backyard chickens and Westminster who is supposed to be all about sustainability doesn't. Here is the e-mail I sent to the city and the response I got back:

    To Whom it May Concern:

    I am a resident of the Countryside neighborhood and would like to write to you about concerns that I have. I would like to keep a few chickens in my backyard as pets and am upset that the law makes this illegal. Chickens are included as livestock in the city code but to me they would be pets with the benefit of free compost and eggs. I feel that it is my right as an American to provide for my family as best as I am able on the amount of land that I can afford. My lot is approximately .25 acres which is more than enough to keep a few chickens and maintain a family garden. Many other cities including Denver allow chickens on residential lots. I propose that the law be changed to allow chickens to be kept in backyards as pets under the following restrictions:

    · No roosters allowed, only laying hens.

    · Chickens are to be kept for eggs only, not meat. ( no butchering of chickens in backyards)

    · Proper housing of chickens is taken into account to avoid predators.

    · Chickens must be kept clean and disease free.

    · Chicken manure must be properly composted or disposed of to avoid unpleasant smells.

    · Must have a chicken permit to keep chickens. (The permit fee would cover all costs of enforcing code.)

    · Must have neighbors permission within 100 ft of property.

    My goal is to make my home as sustainable as possible. I would like the city to support me in doing so. Please let me know if there is anyway to obtain a variance for my property to keep chickens or what else I can do to make this legal in Westminster. Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Thank you for your inquiry.

    I understand that you have spoken with Code Enforcement on this issue.

    Keeping livestock (chickens) is not allowed by City of Westminster ordinance. The ordinance also requires a property to be at least ten acres to support livestock within city limits. Livestock is defined by the state and federal government and cannot be changed to pet status by the City of Westminster. Any attempt to get a variance for your residential property would need to be presented to City Council during a Council meeting.

    6-7-12: RESTRICTIONS ON SALE AND POSSESSION OF ANIMALS: (1463 1890 1973 2066 3062 3288)

    (B) Livestock Limited: It shall be unlawful to keep or maintain livestock in residential, business, commercial, and industrial zone districts, and Planned Unit Developments unless specifically allowed in the PUD, excepting that livestock shall be permitted in parcels zoned 0-1 or in parcels of

    6/2006 6-7-12(B) 6-7-13

    10 acres or more in size in all zoning districts prior to commencement of construction on the parcel. In any case the number of animals kept in a PUD shall not exceed the number permitted by the provisions of the Official Development Plan. Livestock, excluding fowl, shall have one-half acre of pasture available for each animal.

    James Mabry

    Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator

    City of Westminster

    303-430-2400, ext. 2011
  2. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    That's ridiculous that you need to have a half an acre per bird...jeeze...

    Try finding a city that has 10 acres of land...

    Other than that it's a very good letter.
    Last edited: May 13, 2008
  3. That's excluding fowl.
  4. Oblio13

    Oblio13 Songster

    Jan 26, 2008
    New Hampshire
    Quote:If you submit another proposal, I'd leave all of those things out of it. They'll make things restrictive and bureaucratic enough all on their own, no sense giving them ideas.
  5. Wolf-Kim

    Wolf-Kim Songster

    Jan 25, 2008
    I agree, you need to drop the "suggested" restrictions. If you feel you really want the restrictions in there, I would limit them to a (1)maximum amount of chickens per residential property, (2)no roosters, and (3)chickens must be restricted to their owner's property.

    I think the one on eating their own chickens is unfair. If you can be allowed to have hens for their eggs, why can't someone have hens for eating? I mean afterall if they really, really wanted fresh chicken they would go buy and kill the bird and just finish processing it at their place. Just my opinion on that one.

    I'm also worried that with you drawing attention to yourself and this issue, that you would draw attention to your illegal keeping of livestock. I understand that you believe it wouldn't take long to be caught regardless.

    I would get as many people behind you as you could. The more people behind you the louder your voice. I think the letter is well-written. Whether you view chickens as pets or livestock you shouldn't need ten acres to be legally able to keep them.

    Hope it works out well for you! Enjoy your new chicks!
    Last edited: May 13, 2008
  6. seismic wonder2

    seismic wonder2 I got mad ninja skills

    Feb 3, 2007
    san diego ca
    See if you can get your neighbors on board to either sign the letter or write their own.
    (Promise fresh eggs)
  7. utahmethodist

    utahmethodist Songster

    Mar 7, 2008
    SLC, UT
    You might also want to include a partial list of other municipalities that allow chickens to show that lots of other cities don't have a problem with pet chickens.
  8. ChickenSoup82

    ChickenSoup82 In the Brooder

    May 13, 2008
    Thanks for the help! I was trying to think like a politician and what might pass for a new ordinance on chickens, but I should leave that part to them.

    Here is another idea:
    (from the city code under 6-7-12)

    (E) Exceptions: The prohibitions in subsections (B) and (C) of this Section shall not apply to any of the following:
    1. A bona-fide publicly or privately owned zoological park.
    2. A bona-fide research institution using animals for scientific research
    3. A circus duly authorized to do business in the City
    4. A veterinary hospital operated by a veterinarian currently licensed by the State of Colorado,
    5. Wildlife rehabilitators, falconers, or scientific collection permit holders who are currently licensed by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

    I would use the second exception above and keep a scientific journal on my efforts to be sustainable on my property. It doesn't say anything about getting permission from the city or what consititutes a research institution. That is the reason I moved to Colorado in the first place, to learn about sustainable environments at CU Boulder. I'm not enrolled right now but I would love to do a paper on it in the future.
  9. Slike

    Slike Songster

    Dec 1, 2007
    Puna, Big Island, HI
    10 acres... what kind of fools...
    I have ~8.2 acres in California and have had, at the same time, just under 40 turkeys, 9 chickens, 4 horses, 7 emus, 2 cats, 1 dog, 6 ducks, and anywhere from 5-7 people living here depending on what day of the week, all of which coexist comfortably. What a crock if ever I heard one... LOL @ 10 acres in the city, that's a good one.

    Your letter was well-written and thought out, despite the typical copy and paste response you received. That kina stuff really irks me, let me tell you.

    Livestock, excluding fowl, shall have one-half acre of pasture available for each animal.

    And what on EARTH does that mean then? First they say livestock includes chickens, then OH WAIT... the acreage restrictions don't apply to them? Yet you still can't legally own? So why are they even mentioned? [​IMG]

    My heart goes out to you, I admire your willingness to try to reason with them. However, from personal experience, the advice I would offer is to just try to avoid them at this point since you already made your interests known. Don't give them any more reason to maybe suspect you, in other words - I would hate to hear that they took your babies. I lived in LA on a .5 acre lot for 11 years, half of which was a hill covered in trees, bushes and flowers, and it was very much illegal to have chickens there. Why? I'll never understand those people. I had, at times, up to 5 bantam hens there. DOGS in neighborhoods are far more obnoxious and troublesome to neighbors than a few pet hens. Hens don't sit there cackling at nothing at 3am as loud as they can. The sad thing is, being that people in the governing ranks in cities more than likely have no experience with chickens or other fowl, and thusly don't appreciate them as anything other than food, they will not sympathize... which honestly angers me. I'm not so keen on the whole ignorant and apathetic thing.

    In order to further win over the hearts of neighbors who weren't totally off the deep end down in TO, we would share fresh eggs with them and they loved them. Just be careful if you have any jerky ones around that they don't get wind of what you're keeping on your property, cautious is a good way to be. There's always that nut case nearby you might not even know exists yet >.< Gl to you!​
  10. NurseLuke

    NurseLuke Hatching

    Jan 22, 2012
    I'm in Westminster (Cotton Creek) and would like to pursue getting the ordinance changed. Are you still in the area? Any advice/interest in getting this going again?
    And if there's a Chicken Underground here I want to get in on it. Please respond.

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