Measure Aims to Shore Up Urban Chicken Keeping

Jan 23, 2014

State lawmakers are moving to help homeowners who want really fresh eggs and chicken. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer explains.


The measure crafted by Sen. David Farnsworth would overrule any city ordinance that prohibits chickens on single-family residential lots. Cities could still enact limits. And, noisy roosters would still be forbidden. But, even regulations that require chicken coops to be a certain number of feet from the neighbors would be negated. Farnsworth said it’s a matter of rights.

“The proper role of government according to the U.S. Constitution and the Arizona Constitution is to protect the liberty of the people. And liberty of the people is being eroded, particularly property rights,” Farnsworth said.

Ken Strobeck, executive director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said it’s not that simple.

“When people buy homes in certain residential areas they expect they will have a certain level of behavior and activity going on around them. If there are noises or smells or things that are not anticipated when they purchased in that neighborhood, then their property rights are being infringed on,” Strobeck said.

Farnsworth said he thinks that problem can be handled through existing nuisance laws. But, Strobeck said the wording of the legislation guaranteeing the right to own chickens might even override that.