Aurora chickens can come home to roost, legally

“In the last three-and-a-half days, 87 calls came in favor of allowing chickens. There was only one against,” said Councilwoman Sally Mounier.

AURORA | After years of debate, chickens will finally be allowed to roost in residents’ backyards.

Close to 90 backyard-chicken advocates of all ages filled council chambers Monday, holding small pieces of paper denoting which ward they belonged to. During a public hearing, Aurora residents touted the myriad health benefits to owning the backyard birds, and pointed to their economic value.

“The eggs we go through, that’s worth $21 a week in eggs right now,” said Caley Offenhauser, a Ward V resident and stay-at-home mom.

“There is evidence there is no negative effect on home values whatsoever,” said Robert Kregar, an Aurora resident who works as a financial services representative at Westerra Credit Union. Kregar said Columbine Knolls, a chicken friendly-HOA in nearby Littleton saw its median home prices increase compared to the rest of the city as a result of allowing backyard hens last year.

After years of being banned in Aurora, city council reversed itself last night and will now allow city homeowners to keep 4 backyard chickens if they comply with rules. (Danielle Shriver/ Aurora Sentinel)
After years of being banned in Aurora, city council reversed itself last night and will now allow city homeowners to keep 4 backyard chickens if they comply with rules. (Danielle Shriver/ Aurora Sentinel)

Aurora City Council voted 6 to 4 in approval of the measure.  Ward IV Councilwoman Molly Markert and Ward V Council Member Bob Roth voted against it, citing their wards’ opposition to backyard chickens, along with At-Large Councilman Pierce and Ward VI Councilman Bob Broom.

“Being a council member-at-large, I’ve had a lot of people tell me they don’t want to see chickens in Aurora,” Pierce said.

“In the last three-and-a-half days, 87 calls came in favor of allowing chickens. There was only one against,” said Councilwoman Sally Mounier.

The measure stipulates that residents need a permit for the chickens, and homeowners associations would be allowed to prohibit the backyard birds. Chicken coops also need to be located at least 15 feet from neighboring properties. Roosters will still be illegal for Aurora residents to own.

The ordinance allows residents to own no more than 4 hens. Council amended the ordinance to require that residents pay a $150 fine for keeping roosters beyond 30 days after receiving a violation notice.

  • gouko787

    Roth, Broom, Markert and Pierce represent the OLD City Council. They would be a better fit in the 50’s. I will be happy when they are no longer making decisions for my family and I based on outdated information and old school puritan views. Stating the people they know were opposed to this measure even though they had no evidence just shows the only people they have contact with are their dinner friends and the people at the retirement homes in which they hold their Ward meetings, Those two pools don’t really represent the wide spectrum of constitiuents. That reperesent a small slice of Aurora which these council members are cozy with.
    How about you ask some people outside of the same tax bracket or cultural vacuum.
    Thank you to the rest City Council.
    Next it is time to make the right choice about lifting the ban on certain breeds of dogs.

    • Been there

      I am neither a dinner party or live in a nursing home. I am in Broom’s district and he speaks for me and my family. The houses in Aurora are by far too close together to have chickens. The chicken coops and chickens are very nasty smelling. Have you ever lived next to a chicken coop full of chickens? I have. They are noisy and smelly. On a hot summers night you can lay in bed with your windows open and become nauseous from the smell. And who cleans up after them? Who cleans the coop to keep the smell down? If many residents don’t take care of their dogs and cats, are they really going to take care of chickens after the first bloom of ownership? Or will this be another case of what happened to the pot belly pigs, rabbits and turtles? Yes, the fresh eggs are great, but chickens take time and money. I hope the homeowners associations have more brains than the Aurora City Council has.

      • gouko787

        I truly appreciate your concern.
        Many days I can smell the City Dump. Eliminating the waste that goes there is crucial.
        I would rather smells my responsible neighbors chicken poop everyday, that the rot and waste from my irresponsible neighbors excesive waste at the dump once a week.
        Just like with dogs, kids and themselves, people would be tasked with maintaining a clean and safe home, whether they have chickens or not.
        I live in Broom’s District too, and have watched him block progress and common sense for years. I thank him for his service, but I will not be sad to see him go.
        My family is from Oklahoma. I am very familiar with chickens. 4 is not a major concern.

      • Schelli Nimz

        Not everyone has to be for them. Chicken owners care as much about their homes and cleanliness as their neighbors. Chickens on a farm kept in larger numbers do indeed smell. 4 hens put out less waste by far than one single dog or cat. The noise is much less than many dogs in a neighborhood, or even the TV people enjoy in the evening.
        Chickens take time and money indeed, so does buying eggs from the store, where the hidden price is subsidized food produced in horrifying and filthy conditions. Most chicken keepers want to have some control over their food and know it comes from a clean and humane source.
        Not everyone will be for them or against them, and no matter how well the ordinance is intended, you will never make everyone happy.
        I honestly don’t get the arguments you present though..unless you speak from experience of living next door to an urban chicken coop. A small number of hens is none of those things, and it is kind of insulting to imply everyone who keeps animals is irresponsible. There will always be bad apples in any group, and the law provides recourse for that.

      • Daisy Rothschild

        It varies a great deal and depends where in Aurora you live. We live in ‘old Aurora’ and between me and my neighbor, we have a half acre between us. Add my other neighbor, and we have 3/4s. We have been organic and pesticide/ herbicide free for over 10 years. We all have compost piles as well, which, when correctly tended, offer no smell at all. I can tell you that when our old neighbors had dogs, and left a month’s worth of dog poo in the yard, that was much more offensive in August than any chicken coop well tended. With all neighbors, it depends on if they upkeep their property and their animals. Who cleans up after your neighbor’s dogs, who are far
        noisier and smellier? They can bark incessantly for hours all day, but
        unless 2 neighbors agree it’s a problem, nothing happens. In time people will accept this as a normal and natural way to embrace gardening, and Homesteading, the change will not allow anything close to a commercial venture. If Denver can do it well, so can we, without the cowtown image. This was the way Aurora was founded. It can be a good and healthy thing.

      • Margaux Milchen

        we have huge Yards in North Aurora…and we don’t have HOAs Greatfully.

    • Tommy B

      Talk about the 50’s and who would fit, surely not the wise council members who voted no. I grew up in the 50’s and back then people had chickens in their yards. From experience I can tell you this. Bad smells, chicken crap has a lot of ammonia in it. Some folks did not keep their coops clean and it was sickening to get even a small whiff. Clucking hens next door? This is 3rd World coming to Aurora in 2014 from Mexico and South America. Not as noisy as some dogs? That sure makes one feel better about it. Barking dogs are a code violation. Apparently Aurora doesn’t have enough codes to enforce already. you like the smell of chicken poop buy some Richland Poultry Fertilizer and put it on your grass but be careful not to get it on your shoes unless you keep them outside. People are people, some good, some lazy that don’t even pick up after their dogs on a daily basis. So what makes anyone think everyone will keep the coops clean?

      • Margaux Milchen

        Ya lost…move on. Those council members that voted FOR chickens are wise…The against voting ones were less than smart.

  • Schelli Nimz

    I am grateful Aurora came to their senses on this. It’s good to have a foot in the door but the law is still very restrictive compared to surrounding areas.
    Those who voted no cited very flimsy reasons, that if they had *actually* been listening, would have been proven as incorrect, misinformed, or able to be solved with compromise.
    It was encouraging to see every age range represented, and so many different back grounds. I was discouraged somewhat at the lack of ethnic diversity, but the more we reach out, the more I hope to see people that truly represent ALL of Aurora come in to the fold.
    Thank you Rachel for reporting on it, and doing so in a balanced manner!

  • Good for Aurora!

  • Denver Resident

    I have followed this discussion for a while now. In full disclosure, I am not an Aurora resident. I live in Denver in an HOA controlled area. While chickens are allowed in Denver, they are not in the HOA. Which is a good thing. Not everyone wants to live next door to chickens, including me. However, if you have a big enough lot and there is a large enough space between you and your neighbors fine. I think the rules put forth by the new ordinance at least address some of those concerns. I watched the Youtube version of last night’s Aurora council meeting. I noticed there wasn’t one mention of the potential for predators. We have several in my area because of the chickens nearby. Of course, a well constructed coop will deter most predators. But what happens when the predator can’t get the chicken and goes after the outside cat or small dog? One point that someone did raise last night (and in other forums) that real estate values would not be affected. While that might be true, it could potentially effect the markability of the house on the market.

    Aurora, enjoy the chickens and the fresh eggs. I hope the chicken community does a lot of work with the new chicken raisers so there will be little impact on their neighborhood. It was very interesting to see the entire democratic process.

    • Schelli Nimz

      The predator aspect has been mentioned several times, and soundly dis-proven many times. I have had 2 cats taken by predators. When I was young, a pack of coyotes came and ate small dogs in neighbors yards (no chickens in the area whatsoever). I have heard of hawks taking dogs and cats as well. Predators exist, and human activity in general attracts them. Chickens do not stand out like a signal beacon and tell predators it’s a free for all..they are already there.
      As far as the real estate values, one of the presenters quoted in the article had actual numbers showing them not only unaffected, but the home models that offered chicken coops as part of the floor plans were selling just fine and properties in the area increasing in value.
      Before the meeting, I called 2 Realtors in Denver. They stated it has never been an issue, and they doubted anyone could come up with the numbers to prove it. One had just sold a home in Highlands Ranch where the neighbors coop was visible from the yard, and they buyer thought it ws pretty cool.
      Not everyone wants to live next to them, and there has to be room for compromise an negotiation.
      The group that has been pushing the hardest for the ordinance has run in to little actual opposition. We are families raising children, retirees, gardeners, and a myriad of other people who want security in their food chain, and the benefits they offer. We will continue to work hard to make sure Aurora has the resources it needs within the community to handle issues before they become a problem. 93% of medium to large cities now allow chicken keeping. The 2 firm “nos” on the list at the time were Aurora, CO and Detroit, MI. Aurora is one of the last on the wagon, but that also means we can look at what has and has not been successful in other areas, and hopefully find balance and compromise.

      • Denver Resident

        Schelli, thank you for your well-thought out reply. You might be the first person that I have talked with that has been an advocate for chickens that presents a reasonable response. In all honesty, some of the discussion I have read previously to Aurora’s new ordinance were from people that are almost militant in their responses. At times, they have been rude and obnoxious when trying to explain their position. And they they get extremely upset if you dare to question them. Of course, the same can be said about the anti-chicken side too. I have always advocated a reasonable discussion from all sides.

        Again, thank you for presenting your side. Good luck with the chickens and enjoy the fresh eggs.

        • Schelli Nimz

          Thank you, it is my opinion we have wandered too far from the art of compromise as a people. We worked really hard to get this ordinance, and I truly believe most of us hope it will better our communities. Personally I plan on continuing to work with City Council to keep things as good as they can be for everyone!

    • Schelli Nimz

      The predator aspect has been mentioned several times, and soundly dis-proven many times. I have had 2 cats taken by predators. When I was young, a pack of coyotes came and ate small dogs in neighbors yards (no chickens in the area whatsoever). I have heard of hawks taking dogs and cats as well. Predators exist, and human activity in general attracts them. Chickens do not stand out like a signal beacon and tell predators it’s a free for all..they are already there.
      As far as the real estate values, one of the presenters quoted in the article had actual numbers showing them not only unaffected, but the home models that offered chicken coops as part of the floor plans were selling just fine and properties in the area increasing in value.
      Before the meeting, I called 2 Realtors in Denver. They stated it has never been an issue, and they doubted anyone could come up with the numbers to prove it. One had just sold a home in Highlands Ranch where the neighbors coop was visible from the yard, and they buyer thought it ws pretty cool.
      Not everyone wants to live next to them, and there has to be room for compromise an negotiation.
      The group that has been pushing the hardest for the ordinance has run in to little actual opposition. We are families raising children, retirees, gardeners, and a myriad of other people who want security in their food chain, and the benefits they offer. We will continue to work hard to make sure Aurora has the resources it needs within the community to handle issues before they become a problem. 93% of medium to large cities now allow chicken keeping. The 2 firm “nos” on the list at the time were Aurora, CO and Detroit, MI. Aurora is one of the last on the wagon, but that also means we can look at what has and has not been successful in other areas, and hopefully find balance and compromise.

  • Jennifer Murtoff

    Nicely done, Aurora! Let me know if you need the services of Home to Roost Urban Chicken Consulting!

  • Margaux Milchen

    Yay! Another reason I am glad not to have an HOA. As for roosters…Our neighbors have had em for years. My built in alarm clock. 😉