Denver Direct: Chicken Law Roundup
Saturday, February 5, 2011
Arvada, CO. No person or household shall own or have custody of more than two female chickens or turkeys.Aurora, CO. No chickens allowed.
Colorado Springs, CO. A property may have a maximum of 10 fowl (chickens, ducks, etc.) requiring at least four square feet of coop area and adequate outdoor space. No roosters permitted within the city limits.
Denver, CO. Chicken permit must be purchased from the city for $50 – you must show that the enclosure will be clean pest free. $50 is the application fee. There is an additional $100 license fee, followed by an annual fee of $70 to own chickens. You also have to put two signs in your front yard for one month allowing neighbors to object
Northglenn, CO. Not allowed unless property is zoned for agriculture.
Silt, CO. Unlawful to keep any poultry in town.
Thornton, CO. Not zoned for fowl. Other sources say Thornton allows 2 ducks, but not chickens.
Westminster, CO. Not allowed unless property is zoned for agriculture.
I decided to research this and found out that this is only a small part of the story. In fact, the procedure for getting legal permission to own a chicken in Denver is so cumbersome, time consuming and expensive that few people would subject themselves to it. Indeed, according to an official at Animal Control I spoke to they have only had a “handful” of applicants.
The procedure goes like this. First, an application is submitted to Animal Control which includes information such as the location where the chickens will be kept, the size of their pen, where their waste material will be disposed. The applicant must even state which vaccinations the chickens have had, whether spayed or neutered and the name of the chicken’s veterinarian. (Are there any chicken vets in Denver? Would anyone actually take a sick chicken to a veterinarian hospital or do vets do housecalls for sick chickens?) This application costs $50.
Animal control then does an inspection of the site, but it is unclear what standards must exist for a permit to be issued. I imagine that a Denver animal control officer who deals with dogs and cats has little or no experience in assessing chicken coops.
If approved, the applicant must then go to Zoning. Zoning will require the applicant to contact the neighborhood organization and the councilmember, and also to post two notices at two different times in front of the property giving anyone the opportunity to object. If no objections, after 30 days a one-year permit can be granted for a $100 fee.
Both permits must be renewed annually for total fees of $70.
I believe this law was enacted some years ago when Denver wanted to escape its agriculture surroundings and become an urban area. Probably there was a desire to outlaw chickens, etc. but someone decided rather than to outlaw them it was better to make the application procedure so complicated and expensive that most people wouldn’t bother. Then, it was never revisited.
However, I think the time is ripe for these rules to be changed. Just last year the Denver City Council voted to amend the zoning rules to allow backyard beekeeping. And what with the new awareness of sustainability perhaps the chickens’ time in the sun has arrived.
My wife and I are committed urban farmers and we live and work in the City. Anyone wishing to join us in an effort to change these laws is welcome to contact me. Please use the email forwarding function on this website or, contact me at my business, www.earthdogdenver.com
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