PTC’s Imker lays egg in backyard hens request
Derides citizens asking for pilot program; ‘I can’t believe we wasted almost an hour’
More than a dozen local residents stuck around late at Thursday night’s Peachtree City Council meeting, asking the city to adopt a pilot program to allow homeowners to keep backyard hens to provide fresh eggs for their family.
Several residents noted that backyard hens often are considered family pets and that families want an option to store bought and mass produced food. Photos were also shown of some rather spiffy-looking chicken coops that appeared as if they had come out of the pages of Better Homes and Gardens or Architectural Digest.
There were also efforts to debunk the idea that chickens are noisy and smelly. The point was made several times that as long as the coop and area are kept clean, there is no smell to speak of, and one resident noted that at her previous home she managed to keep four chickens without her next-door neighbor even knowing until it came time for them to move.
None of it was enough to sway council to adopt the pilot program on the spot. Instead, Council members Kim Learnard and George Dienhart agreed to study the matter further in a cooperative effort with Chicks4PTC, the chicken-raising advocacy group.
While council was concerned with punting the matter to city staff due to workload issues, Councilman Eric Imker at the end of the discussion expressed dismay that the matter had gone on for so long at the meeting.
“I can’t believe we wasted almost an hour of city staff time. There are a dozen people over there,” Imker said, pointing to the city staff in the audience. Imker added that he felt the matter was a low priority, and after one or two residents left the meeting chambers in disgust, Imker noted that he was not opposed to the idea of Peachtree City allowing the pilot program, though perhaps at a scaled back number of homes and with additional regulations.
Imker added that he wanted to be sure no other city work was put on hold by staff to look into the matter, noting that the city is entering its budget planning time and has safety issues to address as well.
“If I find that anything has been put aside to take care of an ordinance for chickens, with staff, then I am going to be extremely upset with staff,” Imker said.
Resident Ann Hayes was the first to respond to Imker’s view, which ruffled feathers in the audience, to put it mildly.
“This is important to me and my family and to some of my neighbors to do something like this,” Hayes said. “You say it’s a low priority but it’s actually kind of a high priority to me. I don’t even want to wait two years if I don’t get to be in a pilot program like this.”
Hayes noted that she cannot control other neighbors’ pets even though she would prefer they not have certain breeds and despite the fact that neighbor’s cats often hang out in her yard. She added that it may turn out that her chickens won’t even disturb her neighbors.
“Why not give us a chance?” Hayes said.
The proposal from Chicks4PTC proposed allowing up to 25 homes to have up to five hens each, but no roosters, with a requirement that the hens be contained in a covered coop and fenced-in area that is not visible from the street or golf cart paths.
Mayor Don Haddix stressed that he wanted data, not opinions, on the issue so he could make a good decision on the matter.
The proposal is expected to be brought up at a future council meeting, though no concrete time frame was set Thursday night.