Monday 8/27/12 – First Reading New Ordinance!

This process has been fraught with delays and frustrations, but… we are now set to have the official first reading of the new urban hen ordinance on Monday night, 8/27/12 at 6:30PM at City Council chambers (210 N 27th Street, Billings).

The council can vote this forward or vote it down. We UTTERLY and ABSOLUTELY need you there!! If you care about urban hens in Billings, please make your voice heard! If you absolutely cannot make the meeting, please at the very least send an email to the council at and let them know you are in support of the urban hen ordinance!

We’ve been working on this issue since April of 11 – sixteen months now – and it’s come down to the wire. The council seems divided – the vote is not yet sure. Can you – will you – help??

Check out our Facebook page: Billings Backyard Hen Initiative, for up-to-the-minute updates. (“>


Monday 8/6/12

Tonight at 5:30PM the City Council will hear the reading of the Urban Hen ordinance from Animal Control, Billings Police Department. There will be 2 readings of the ordinance, tonight is the first. Public may comment for 1 minute. Obviously, the anti-hen folks will be there… this is late notice, but if you can make it tonight in support of urban hens, please do!

The meeting is at City Council chambers downtown, as usual. We’re first on the agenda so it should be a short evening.

If you cannot make it, please email the council at and let them know you are in support of the urban hen ordinance.

The delay has been between the Zoning Commission (a citizen’s advisory group) who have ignored all the facts and tried to bury this ordinance repeatedly since we first talked to them well over a year ago) and Animal Control Board (also a citizen’s advisory group). Interestingly,  a certain member of the Animal Control Board has publicly denigrated this idea since it’s inception – speaking out of course as a citizen and not as a member of the ACB. However, Dave Klein, Director of Animal Control with Billings PD, has put together what we think will be a good solid urban hen ordinance for Billings, based on preliminary discussions.

We’re close, chicken-lovers! Keep up the energy and enthusiasm!!! (“>

The Time is NOW!!

OK Billings, the city website just posted Monday’s City Council agenda – and the first public reading/comment period for urban hens is on the top of the agenda. We need you and your resident pro-hen friends to BE THERE!!!

6:30PM Monday 7/23/12

City Council Chambers

220 North 27th Street, 2nd floor

We know that it takes time out of your schedule to come downtown on a Monday evening… the Council members understand what a commitment it requires for people to show up. That’s why your presence COUNTS! We can’t let a few people speak for the entire hen-loving community, because the council needs to hear that those who have been there so far are but a small percentage of those of you who call, email, catch us at baseball games, at Vacation Bible School, at the grocery store, or elsewhere, to ask about the status of the initiative. We know that the opposition will be there Monday night – please, please, won’t you be there too??

It’s Close, But Not Here Yet!!

Here’s an updated schedule!! The city staff is going to present TWO ordinances to the Council… the ordinance that the Council requested (based on Missoula/Fort Collins good ordinances), and the complicated, untried and excessively controlling ordinance that city staff had put together (requiring 20′ easement from property lines, pre-permit inspections despite the fact that Animal Control says they don’t have time to do these, additional 4′ property fencing, etc). Public comment is required to help the Council make the best choice for Billings. (This is where YOU come in, and your emails count too!)

6/5 (Tuesday) 4:30PM Zoning Commission – City Council chambers
6/12 (Tuesday) 6PM Animal Control Board – North Park Center
6/25 (Monday) 6:30PM City Council public comment #1
7/9 (Monday) 6:30PM City Council public comment #2

8/9 Ordinance passed becomes effective for one year, upon which time it will be reviewed and made permanent, hopefully!

We’re reaching the desired results, but we need to keep moving forward: no resting just yet! Please try to make at least one of the upcoming meetings! The two most critical meetings will be the City Council “public comment” times (latter two meetings listed above). Let’s see this thing through!! (“>

Council Directs Staff to Proceed with Hen Ordinance!

Monday May 14 2012, the City Council voted 7-2 to direct staff to proceed with an urban hen ordinance based on the ordinance already proven and currently in use in both Missoula, Montana and Fort Collins, Colorado. This is GREAT NEWS!! A one-year “sunset” clause will be written into the ordinance so we have the equivalent of a year’s pilot program to make sure that the issue works well in Billings and any tweaking that needs to occur may be easily addressed.

A public comment period will occur twice before the ordinance is adopted (July?). Regular upcoming sessions (which begin at 6:30PM) include May 28 and June 11, it is possible that the ordinance will be read at one or both of those sessions. As the agenda becomes available, we will let you know. It is important that people are ready to come in support of the issue, as we are sure that the opposition will do so :). In respect for the time of the City Council, we will ask very few people to speak, but be willing to stand in support. Respect & consideration should always work both ways.

If you can’t make one of the Monday night meetings, please email the council at and Mayor at and thank them for their willingness to help Billings make this great stride towards being a sustainable, local-foods city!

Requested Urban Chicken Ordinance

(from Missoula, MT and Ft Collins, CO)


The prohibition to keeping chickens in this section does not apply to the keeping of up to 6 female chickens while the animals are kept in such a manner that the following standards are complied with:

    1. The chickens must be kept on a single-family parcel(s), and chickens may be kept on a parcel(s) under one ownership with more than one dwelling if all residents and the owner consent in writing to allowing the chickens on the property. When chickens are kept on a multi-dwelling parcel(s) the owner of the chickens shall keep a copy of the signed approval document for inspection upon request by animal control personnel.
    2. The owner must obtain an annual permit from the City Treasurer.  The permit shall be $15.
    3. The chickens shall be provided with a covered, predator-proof chicken house that is thoroughly ventilated, of sufficient size to admit free movement of the chickens, designed to be easily accessed, cleaned and maintained by the owners and be at least 2 square feet per chicken in size.
    4. No chicken house shall be located closer than 20 feet to any residential structure occupied by someone other than the chicken owner, custodian, or keeper.
    5. The chickens shall be shut into the chicken house at night, from sunset to sunrise.
    6. During daylight hours the adult chickens shall have access to the chicken house and, weather permitting, shall have access to an outdoor enclosure on the subject property, adequately fenced to contain the chickens and to prevent access to the chickens by dogs and other predators.
    7. Stored feed must be kept in a rodent- and predator-proof container
    8. It is unlawful for the owner, custodian, or keeper of any chicken to allow the animal(s) to be a nuisance to any neighbors, including but not limited to: noxious odors from the animals or their enclosure; and noise of a loud and persistent and habitual nature.  Animal Control will determine whether or not a nuisance exists on a case-by-case basis.
    9. Enforcement Upon receiving a complaint of a possible violation Animal Control will investigate, determine if a violation exists and when appropriate leave a notice of violation and order to take corrective action with the owner, custodian, or keeper and provide them with written notice of the violations that require correction.  Animal Control will revisit the owner’s address 10 days or more after the notice of violation is issued.  If the owner, custodian, or keeper has failed to comply with the ordinance, Animal Control may issue a citation to the owner, custodian or keeper for failure to comply with any applicable requirement of this section.

And Still More Cities… Westport, Connecticut Cloquet, Minnesota Wauwatosa, Wisconsin Green, Ohio Fishers, Indiana Fenton, Michigan Guadalupe, California Smithfield, North Carolina Menomonie, Wisconsin


Reinventing Urban Agriculture

Interesting article on urban agriculture, from Jacksonville, Florida.

Quoting: “What is urban agriculture? As a national movement, urban agriculture is growing rapidly across the US. According to the USDA, around 15 percent of the world’s food is now grown in urban areas. City and suburban agriculture takes the form of backyard, roof-top and balcony gardening, community gardening in vacant lots and parks, roadside urban fringe agriculture and livestock grazing in open space.” Amid escalating concerns about the environment, pesticides, and food safety, urbanites are turning to community gardens to supply their fruits and vegetables. Cities are also creating gardens to address “urban food deserts,” or areas where access to fresh fruits and vegetables is limited. Animal husbandry, of which urban hen-keeping is the most popular version, forms a significant part of the urban agriculture movement.”