The chicken issue in Glendale is still not settled. I suspect I may be on council when this issue is finally brought forward. But right now I am not and I can share some thoughts. If you look at my informal poll to the left of this column you will see that half the respondents don’t want chickens and half do want chickens.
This issue should never have been. It started as a neighbor dispute. From all that I have heard they were good neighbors and got along for years. Something triggered animosity (not the chickens) between them and chickens became a means of redress. One of the aggrieved parties went to his or her councilmember to complain. It could have been handled by the councilmember urging both neighbors to participate in mediation or working with them one-on-one. Instead the councilmember brought it forward during Council Items of Special Interest asking for exploration of and discussion of an ordinance to allow chickens.
It has consumed hundreds of hours of staff time and cost you, the taxpayer, thousands of dollars in terms of employee salaries to handle this issue. For years residents have silently had chickens throughout this city…some on large lot property, some on smaller lot property…and there was peace. It was a non-issue. Now we have warfare and it’s the north versus the south all over again. If this hadn’t turned into such a public and divisive issue people all over Glendale would have continued to quietly maintain chickens and no one would have cared. It would have continued to fly under the radar.
Generally north Glendale residents do not want chickens. It’s a NIMBY situation and they believe it will devalue their property. Whether it actually devalues property or not, it is still a matter of perception and therefore a valid consideration. The anti-chicken charge is being guided behind the scenes by former Mayor Scruggs. The public face of anti-chickens in north Glendale is Penny Knochenhauer and Michele Tennyson, her friends.
Now, I may be wrong but I don’t think so…99% of Arrowhead is residential and those neighborhoods are controlled by HOAs. Northern Glendale doesn’t have and will not have a problem with chickens ever…because their HOA regulations mandate whether or not they would be allowed. South Glendale residents appear to be more tolerant and are willing to accept chickens. Many south Glendale chicken proponents already have them and appear to be living in peace with their neighbors. So what do we do now? The staff manpower and expense to resolve this issue is becoming ridiculous. A speedy decision is required. Compromise may be in order. What could a compromise look like?
· It doesn’t seem appropriate that there be chickens on small lot residential properties. Expanding permissible zoning districts to R1-8, (8,000 square foot lots) could be considered. Right now the smallest zoning district that allows chickens is R1-12 (12,000 square foot lots). This compromise would expand allowable zoning districts by adding R1-10 and R1-8. Properties smaller than that (R1-7, R1-6 and R1-4) could cause potential problems and don’t seem to be appropriate candidates for chickens.
· Many Valley cities have restrictions on the number of chickens allowed. It seems reasonable to allow one chicken per every 1,000 square feet. On an 8,000 square foot property that would allow for 8 chickens…that’s a lot of eggs!
· Another component of compromise should include setbacks, a restriction seen in other Valley cities. A setback of 20 feet from any residence (including chicken owner’s home) and 20 foot side and rear yard setbacks to protect adjacent neighbors seem to be in order.
· Lastly a public acknowledgement in city language that recognizes that HOA regulations on this issue supersede any city codes is vital. This stipulation allows self-determination of the chicken issue in a vast number of neighborhoods in Glendale. It seems reasonable that neighbors decide what is in their best interest.
· Roosters are prohibited and will continue to be prohibited in nearly all zoning districts.
You know a compromise has worked if those who are in favor are angry and those who are against are angry. This compromise would probably evoke just such a response. Those who are anti-chicken will be angry because the city has expanded the allowance to R1-8 properties. Those who are pro-chicken will be upset because there are restrictions. Perfect.
If a majority of city council is unwilling to compromise and it comes down to a straight “yes” or “no” vote and I am on city council, I will have to think about the issue further before I make a final decision.
© Joyce Clark, 2016
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