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Final rule reading rips roosters from City limits

Final rule reading rips roosters from City limits

Roosters have been silenced once and for all within the City of Exeter.

The Exeter City Council voted 5-0 at its Feb. 12 meeting to allow hens, rabbits, guinea pigs, song birds and pigeons, but to prohibit roosters. The items was the second reading of the household pet ordinance which was amended to include a list of approved pets and a list of prohibited pets within in the city limits, such as roosters, horses, goats and other livestock.

Stephanie Burriel once again asked City Councilmembers to consider an educational exemption for roosters being raised by 4-H members within the city limits during public comment. Burriel, whose son raises roosters at their home in the 200 block of Windsor Court, pointed out that no one had come forward opposing the idea of allowing roosters in town.

“Throughout this process, no person, no one has come forward in opposition [of roosters]. The only issues were personal experiences by the Council members. What is the point of this if you are voting on personal experience instead of information coming from the community,” she said, regarding comments made by Councilmembers at the Jan. 22 Exeter City Council meeting.

Mayor Pro-Tem Jack Allwardt said several residents spoke to him about roosters but chose not to attend the City Council meeting. He said several people he talked to were concerned with the noise of roosters.

“I’m a farm boy. I don’t care if you have pot belly pigs, guinea pigs or whatever,” he said. “I don’t care, but my constituents do.”

Burriel said even though there are only three 4-H members raising roosters within the city limits, she was disappointed the City Council could not at least allow an educational exemption or some type of permit to allow 4-H members to continue their projects.

“You said this decision was made for the greater good of the community,” she said. “I don’t think you could find any greater good for children than 4-H.”

City Planner Greg Collins said, technically, roosters were already banned within the city limits. Since they were not listed anywhere in the municipal code, chickens, including both roosters and hens, were prohibited. He said the city’s Code Enforcement Officer was going to begin citing homes with roosters but city officials decided to amend the ordinance to allow for certain types of animals. Collins said Exeter’s ordinance is based on similar ordinances up and down the state which, all of which prohibit roosters.

“None permitted roosters,” Collins said.

It is still unclear if the Planning Commission will take up the possibility of allowing roosters through a conditional use permit process. At the Jan. 22 meeting, City Attorney Steve Kabot suggested the Council request the Commission to create specific conditions, such as keeping the rooster inside at night, before granting a permit on a case-by-case basis. Any decision by the Planning Commission could then be appealed to the City Council.

“I don’t wake up in the morning and hear roosters, but I hear dogs barking all night long,” said Steve Garver during the public comment period. Garver spoke about the importance of this issue for his family and his way of life, as he currently raises seven chickens in his backyard to provide fresh, nutritious eggs for his entire family.

“There have been a lot of laughs over this and it may seem like a trivial thing in many ways,” he said. “But some people take a firm grasp of how their food is prepared. I am very serious about where my food comes from.”

The City Council did soften its stance on hens, increasing the total number a yard can house from six back to the 10 originally recommended by the Planning Commission. Collins explained homeowners will be allowed to raise up to 10 total animals in their back yard – including hens, rabbits, guinea pigs, pigeons, song birds, etc. Collins also said the number of animals does not include pets such as dogs and cats.

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