Letter: Urban chickens should be allowed to stay

From: Stephanie Strothmann


I am writing to voice my support in keeping urban chickens in Columbus. People in today’s times are more mindful about how they live and how this living affects their environment. People recycle, they have gardens, they compost, they pay more attention to the chemicals and other additives they add to their lawns, and yards and people want to know where the food they eat comes from.

The weekly farmers markets in town are well-attended by folks that want locally grown fresh produce and meats and want to feel connected to the place where these items have come from. This is why I feel urban chickens should be allowed to remain.

Urban chicken keeping is vastly different from what farm chicken keeping was and is. The old lean-to chicken coop has given way to coops that are built better than the average outdoor dog house. These structures often feature glass windows, architectural details, well landscaped areas surrounding not chicken coops any longer but rather chicken homes.

The birds are looked after as pets and tended to fastidiously with frequent cleanings of the enclosure. The manure and bedding that is collected during these cleanings is then added to the compost bin to create matter that will grow vegetables that can be eaten or shared with a food co-op. Try doing that with dog/cat droppings—it cannot be done without adding enzymes to make the waste non-toxic.

Urban chicken owners will talk about their birds’ personalities and their interactions. Neighbors find that the birds are quieter than the average dog and find themselves unintentionally watching as the birds nibble at grass, remove grubs and cicadas, mosquitoes (Zika, anyone?) and just do what a chicken does as she browses through her environment. Communities with urban chickens are welcoming places to be and bring people who are creative, imaginative and bring fresh ideas to town.

I think back to one of Columbus’s great men when I think of doing something that is out of the norm and perhaps not the thing that has always been done: J. Irwin Miller. He hired diverse people outside of our community because he believed that these people could bring fresh ideas to this town. Miller was also faced with opposition, but he stayed the course because he knew that the end result would create the town we know and love today. Change is not something to fear, but rather to embrace and celebrate.

I encourage those who oppose urban chicken keeping to search out those who currently keep chickens in town. All of these people whom I know would be more than happy to show you where their birds live, how they live and why they love keeping them. I also encourage folks to come to the City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 5, at 6 p.m. to let your voice be heard. If you can’t make the meeting, send a letter to your council member by visiting columbus.in.gov/city-hall/city-council.