Debate Heating Up Over Metro's Backyard Chicken Bill - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Debate Heating Up Over Metro's Backyard Chicken Bill

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by Heather Graf

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - It's currently illegal to keep backyard chickens in Metro Nashville, but a new ordinance could soon clear the way for change, and not everyone's happy about it.

Monday night, Councilwoman Karen Bennett held a meeting designed to address the concerns of people both for and against the idea.

She's the council member sponsoring the new legislation, and believes there's been a lot of confusion and mis-information.

"I had a number of constituents who came to me either wanting to have chickens, or didn't realize it was illegal and they had chickens already," she said.

Those in favor of the idea say backyard chickens are an extension of their garden, and a healthy, renewable food source for their families.  Supporters made up the majority of the crowd at Monday's meeting.

The few people who spoke up in opposition to this legislation raised concerns about odor, and the effect this could have on their property values.

"I promise you I can smell someone else's barbecue cooking or someone else's dog, or lots of others things that happen in our neighborhood, and the smells draft far more than 10 or 20 feet. So that's one very serious concern," said Suzanne Elmer, who feels chickens don't belong in Metro Nashville.

Mollie Henry also spoke up at the meeting.  She and her family once owned three chickens, but when someone complained about the animals, they were forced to get ride of them.

"I think there's just a lot of fear of the unknown.  We had no odor, our neighbors did not complain about our odor. In fact, they loved to come visit our chickens and take care of them.  They enjoyed eating the eggs as well," said Henry.

A very similar bill failed in Metro Council three years ago.  This time, it seems to have a bit more support. Quite a few council members were also present at Monday's meeting, to hear what their constituents had to say about the idea. 

Bennett's ordinance has already passed the first of three readings needed for final approval at Metro Council.

The second reading is set for early January.  She says several amendments will be made before that vote takes place.


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