Editor, Ceres Courier,
I enjoyed reading the article entitled, "Eggs-plosive trend in backyard chicken farming." Reporter Alysson Aredas brought up a question that has been troubling me for some time now; namely, what does the city of Ceres have against chickens? If you ask the City Planning Department how many hens one is able to raise in a R-1 zoned residence, they will tell you, "Zero." Ask the same question of the city of Modesto and the answer is, "up to 12 domestic fowl." (Code of Ordinances 10-3.202 (a)) The city of Turlock allows up to six domestic fowl. (Municipal Code 6-1-105.1) We are not talking about starting a chicken ranch or even a small cottage business, but we are asking to be allowed to enjoy a few hens as a hobby.
Are our only choices for animal companionship dogs and cats? Hens are less noisy than dogs (at least in my neighborhood), they poop less, and are indeed pets in every sense of the word. If I had dogs (the city of Ceres does allow 3 or less domestic animals... Title 8.04.100) I would build them a house, provide food and water, and clean up after them. I would call them by name. Funny, but that is exactly what I would like to do with chickens. The Code even states what is considered a domestic animal. "...domestic animal shall mean those animals normally kept as pets." (Chapter 18.04)
I do understand that I am prohibited from using R-1 property as agricultural uses. (18.12.100) But the same code defines agriculture as, "The tilling of the soil, the raising of crops, horticulture, viticulture, small livestock farming, dairying, and animal husbandry for the purpose of selling the products resulting from such activity for financial gain or profit." There is no plan for financial gain or profit, only enjoyment. I've even been told that during WWII, Victory Gardens and the raising of chickens was considered patriotic! How very far this independent mentality has been lost to us... at least here in the city of Ceres.
Thanks for letting me vent. Allowing hens will not cause the sky to fall. If the cities of Modesto and Turlock have no problems with chickens, I'm hoping that our leaders will see the wisdom in allowing citizens to exercise the freedom of choice.
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