While, especially as a parent, I would never advocate doing something simply for the fact that “everyone else” is doing it, as a municipality it behooves us to consider that circumstance when we’re looking at the viability of a change in our own city.
Saying “nay”: Last week newspapers reported that East Helena, MT, which has just begun the “discovery and education” process of looking into an urban hen ordinance, voted down the proposed change in City Council. http://helenair.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/east-helena-says-no-to-chickens-in-town/article_f625d354-8ab2-11e1-b39c-001a4bcf887a.html.
East Helena (population 2,134) is not the best comparison to Billings (population 104,934), but it is in Montana, if that makes any difference. Helena itself (population 28,180) does allow urban hens quite successfully.
But along with the report of one township voting it down came three cities voting hen ordinances forward:
http://freshwatercleveland.com/devnews/backyardchickens041912.aspx Cleveland Heights, Ohio (population 46,121) is a suburb of Cleveland, as suburbs begin following the lead of their primary local city in allowing well-constructed hen ordinances. A great quote from the article: Despite the widespread flaps about backyard chickens, Jaime Bouvier, a Visiting Legal Writing Professor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, says that genuine problems are actually quite uncommon.
“In cities across the country, backyard chickens are always very contentious,” she says. “Yet the issue causes more concern than warranted. Typically, there aren’t huge amounts of people that do it, and it doesn’t get out of control.” Bouvier has written extensively about the legal issues surrounding backyard chickens and aggregated model practices around the country.
Cary, NC (population 141,019) is joining the widely pro-chicken Raleigh/Research Triangle area in urban hen-keeping: http://www.newsobserver.com/2012/04/19/2012336/cary-council-endorses-backyard.html
And in Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania (population 25,670) http://upperdublin.patch.com/articles/planning-commission-passes-motion-to-allow-backyard-chickens
Considering that as of 2012, a vast majority of major cities now already allow urban hens, it becomes more of a search to find those cities, townships and suburbs still discussing the issue! But those who already do it successfully are finding ways to do it better: http://www.ktvb.com/home/Boise-city-council-backs-urban-farming-147866495.html. The gist of the article is that Boise (population 198,312) is considering more and better ways to support urban food production, including increasing from 3 to 6 hens in city limits. Interesting to note: the Urban Agriculture program was initiated by city staff, and was voted forward unanimously, 6-0. (“>