No harm, lots of fowl

There will soon be more chickens in Boulder City after the City Council approved an ordinance to let residents in single-family homes keep chickens in their backyards.

After postponing a vote for two weeks, the council agreed to the new ordinance after extensive research by city staff, as well as plenty of positive feedback from Boulder City residents.

Residents living in single-family homes will be able to keep as many as 10 chickens in an enclosure in their backyards. However, a free permit must be obtained from the city to do so. Roosters are not permitted.

“I think this is a good thing for the city,” said resident Cynthia Olsen, who also spoke at a previous meeting.

After the council expressed concern about the possibility of decreasing property values, enforcement and the use of permits to obtain chickens, city staff conducted research to iron out the details. According to its findings, Las Vegas and Henderson do not have a limit on how many chickens one residence can have, and no permits are required.

As for the possibility of decreasing property values, the city looked at an Oregon study that calculated property values of a few cities where residents were allowed to keep chickens. Of the cities included in the study, Salem, the lone one to prohibit chickens, had the lowest priced homes.

Before the ordinance was passed, the city had allowed chickens on lots of at least 20,000 square feet without having to obtain a permit. Councilman Duncan McCoy said he did not feel the need to require permits for the new ordinance since those who already had chickens in bigger lots were not required to have one.

“We’re currently not charging any fees or requiring any special permits or anything like that, and I’m really not in favor of creating any more apparatus,” he said.

But Councilman Cam Walker, who raised the issue of permit requirements during the Oct. 28 meeting, said it would help ensure that all rules were being followed.

“The intent is that on some of these smaller lot sizes within our area, if people want to do it, they understand the regulations and requirements,” he said.

Like McCoy, Councilman Rod Woodbury said he did not see the need for chicken owners to have a permit.

“That’s what the ordinance is for,” Woodbury said. “The only thing that’s going to change is the fact that it’s now legal. I think we do need to be careful about overregulating something like this. Let’s enable this, let’s make it legal.”

After conducting her own research, including consulting a study from the University of New Mexico, Councilwoman Peggy Leavitt said she learned how popular of a movement housing chickens had become. She discovered that in the past five years, the demand for chickens had greatly increased across the United States.

“We need to get on board and be proactive about it, because it’s something that isn’t happening only here in Boulder City, but all across the country,” she said.

Permits can be picked up at City Hall, and they will soon be available online.

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at or at 702-586-9401. Follow @StevenSlivka on Twitter.

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