Resident’s chicken coop doesn’t fly with city - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Resident’s chicken coop doesn’t fly with city

January 19th, 2022 development
Resident’s chicken coop doesn’t fly with city

By Ken Sain, Staff Writer

In the very early days of the pandemic, many people panicked. There were runs at the grocery store, making basic goods like toilet paper impossible to find.

Grocery stores responded by limiting how many of some high-demand items people could buy. One of those was a limit of a dozen eggs per customer.

That was a problem for Chandler resident Shannon Ellingson.

“We eat a lot of eggs,” Ellingson said. “We normally eat three to four dozen a week. We have some food allergy issues, so we eat a lot of eggs.”

That’s when she and her husband decided to get their own egg supply, figuring that if they built a coop in their backyard and filled it with a half dozen chickens, then they wouldn’t have to worry about eggs being rationed at grocery stores.

Ellingson said they did their due diligence before beginning. They searched the city code to make sure there was no ordinance banning chickens in residential areas. When they couldn’t find any mention of chickens or poultry they moved forward.

They also spoke with their neighbors, making sure no one had a problem with them raising chickens. The neighbors were 100 percent behind the idea.

So, they spent about $3,000 in materials to build a chicken coop and then bought eight chickens that ended up producing about five to six eggs a day. Her husband supplied the labor. Everything worked out perfectly.

“We didn’t want to make this big investment and then have to get rid of them, which is exactly what ended up happening,” Ellingson said.

Ellingson got a notice in the mail telling her chickens are not allowed in residential areas in the city.

“Chandler has what they call a permissive code and because under our zoning it doesn’t specifically say that you can have poultry or farm animals or anything because we’re not in an agricultural zone … if it doesn’t specifically say you can, then you can’t,” she said.

That might change.

Chandler Mayor Kevin Hartke announced at the December council meeting the city plans to hold a public session this month to consider allowing chickens in residential areas.

Ellingson said she hopes the city will do just that so she can fill up her coop once again. She said it’s not a cost-saving move, because it costs about the same to feed and house the chickens as it did to buy eggs at the store.

However, she said there are other benefits.

“The bug population on our property was way down,” Ellingson said. “We didn’t see hardly any scorpions the whole time we had them because they were eating all the bugs that the scorpions like.”

And as anyone who has had farm fresh eggs will tell you, the taste is much better.

“Obviously the fresher you can get any of your food, the better it’s going to be,” Ellingson said.

Ellingson said she sold her eight chickens on a group website she belonged to. Her coop is still there but empty.

A residential street is right next to her backyard and anyone can see into it through the chain-link fence. That’s how a city inspector discovered she had chickens and had to send her a citation. Ellingson said the inspector told her no one filed a complaint.

She said if they had a block fence, or lived between two other houses, chances are she would still have her chickens today.

Her neighbors continued to support her owning chickens, she said. They would even help corral them when one would escape the back yard, which happened a couple of times before they clipped their wings.

“People would stop by and look at them through the fence,” Ellingson said. “They’d ask how the chickens are doing. Nobody complained about it.”

Rick Huemann, chair of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, says it’s too soon to know which way it might go.

“It depends on what staff recommends,” he said.

He said while Ellingson’s neighbors may have no issue with her raising hens, the neighbors two streets down may have a problem with one of their neighbors doing the same, especially if they have a rooster, which is much nosier.

Heumann said you have to set standards for everyone.

The last time this came up was in 2013 and a proposal to allow a limited number of chickens in residential backyards was defeated on a 4-3 vote by council. Some of the 75 people who attended because of the topic were concerned about the smell and noise they say chickens generate.

Heumann said this issue will only affect older, traditional neighborhoods, because most homeowner associations have rules against wildlife.

Ellingson said she spoke with the mayor and a couple of councilmembers and is hopeful they might change the zoning.

“A couple of the councilmembers came up and expressed their support, but whether or not that actually plays out in a vote, you know, who knows.”


Chandler has what they call a permissive code and because under our zoning it doesn’t specifically say that you can have poultry or farm animals or anything because we’re not in an agricultural zone … if it doesn’t specifically say you can, then you can’t.– Shannon Ellingson