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May 12, 2014 1:28 AM by Sam Salzwedel

Tucson updating rules on chickens and other agriculture

TUCSON - The City of Tucson is updating its rules for chickens, horses and other urban agriculture.

With the spread of backyard chicken farming, many families are currently breaking rules. City staff wants to update some guidelines to make certain common practices legal, like putting a chicken coop along a fenceline. But many bird owners are worried about what might be restricted.

Lynn Donnelly started raising poultry for pest control. Now she uses the birds for eggs and meat.

"I don't think they should mess with us," she said. "My neighbors aren't bothered by them. In fact, the guy behind me enjoys, in the morning, coming and talking to my turkey."

One of the proposed rules would prohibit owning large animals like cows, horses and sheep.

Dale Slechta has 2 horses on his 5-acre lot. He is a Tucson native and his family has owned the land for decades. He believes he will be grandfathered in, but either way, he does not think the city should restrict horse ownership.

"Horses are a way of life here in Tucson. They have been for thousands of years," Slechta said. "I've never had a problem with horses as far as the neighbors go or anything. They actually like it. Their kids come over and ride my horses."

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik said urban agriculture is healthy for Tucson. He called the proposals a work in progress, but believes animals need to have limits.

"I don't know what the magic number is," Kozachik said. "But whatever the number is, they got to consider sanitation. They got to consider noise. They got to consider the attraction of predators into a residential area. Those are legitimate concerns."

On Tuesday, May 13, the city will host a public meeting on the subject. It will be held at the Sentinel Building on 320 North Commerce Loop. It starts at 6:30 p.m.

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