Iowa City residents can raise chickens, if neighbors don't object

Council also shows support for historic district designation at meeting

Gregg Hennigan
Published: December 18 2012 | 6:45 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 3:32 am in
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IOWA CITY — Iowa City will join the growing ranks of towns that allow people to keep chickens in city limits.

The City Council last night adopted an ordinance that sets a permit process for so-called urban or backyard chickens and, in a separate vote, approved a policy establishing rules for keeping chickens — including a provision that gives someone the power to veto a neighbor’s request for a permit.

That veto was the subject of much debate, but it also led to an unexpected unanimous vote in favor of the policy. A couple of council members spoke against the veto power but agreed to it to get backyard chickens in Iowa City. Opponents of chickens also voted “yes” because they felt the policy protected the interests of people who don’t want the birds next door.

Also last night, the council approved the first consideration of an ordinance that would offer greater protection to a historic district north of downtown.

Two more affirmative votes will establish the Jefferson Street Historic District. The four-block area is on the National Register of Historic Places, but that does not provide protection from demolition or renovation like a local designation does.

Saying it would place undue burdens on them, enough property owners in the district objected to the ordinance that it needed support from six of the seven council members to pass. It got seven votes.

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