UPDATE: Council delays vote to allow chickens inside city limits - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Council delays vote to allow chickens inside city limits

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) -- Chattanooga residents may soon be able to own chickens, if city leaders can come to an agreement on how to permit and regulate them.

Tuesday night, the city council was expected to vote on a chicken ordinance, but chose to delay the vote at the request of the city's animal board.

Nancy Carter's chicken coop use to house four hens.

"We kept them not just for the company, but they also lay eggs, take care of bugs," Carter says. "They are just fun for the kids to play with."

She gave the chickens to a friend, because they aren't allowed in city limits.

She hopes that will soon change.

"I know a lot of people who have been secretly harboring the hope, or harboring chickens," Carter says, laughing.

It's no secret a large group of Chattanooga residents own chickens despite the city laws.

In the past, they have been unsuccessful in changing the city code because of health and regulation concerns.

But, the chicken debate is back on the table.

"It all depends on what the regulation of chickens ends up being," says Karen Walsh.

McKamey director Karen Walsh says it would cost tax payers about $5,000 to build a city coop, but it's still unclear how the city will regulate chickens.

"The chickens are referred to as pets," Walsh says. "Does that make them companion animals? In that case they'd have a five-day stray hold. Or are they livestock, which would make their impound fees different?"

Tuesday, the city's animal control board asked lawmakers to slow down.

The board wants a few more weeks to develop a plan.

"If it's enacted now, it's going to have to be tweaked," says Mike Mallen.

Heeding that advice, the council chose to delay a vote.

Chris Anderson, who sponsored the chicken legislation, was one of three to vote no, hoping to push the measure through immediately.

"I think the people that have wanted this for many years would probably say they don't feel rushed in this process, because they've been waiting for three years for this body to take action," Anderson tells Channel 3.

Nancy Carter says she can wait a few more weeks, if it means her flock can come home.

"I hope that people will embrace chickens," says Carter.

The ordinance, as it is currently written, would allow Chattanooga city residents to own ten hens and no roosters.

They would also have to pay a pet permitting fee.

The council is expected to revisit the issue July 2.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.

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