Chandler’s new chicken law could face referendum - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Chandler’s new chicken law could face referendum

November 20th, 2022 SanTan Sun News
Chandler’s new chicken law could face referendum

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

The Chandler City Council approved allowing backyard chickens in residential neighborhoods on a divided vote.

But the fight may not be over.

Les Minkus of South Chandler, who has been leading the opposition to the change, said he and like-minded residents intend to get enough signatures so local citizens can vote on the measure in a referendum.

If that fails, then he hopes the new and reconstituted City Council may revisit the issue in January after Angel Encinas and Jane Poston replace Rene Lopez and Terry Roe.

“We’re going go for it,” Minkus said after the council’s 5-2 vote Nov. 10. “Let’s see what’s going to happen in January, because they may repeal it, right?”

It took years for Council to approve backyard chickens, which was rejected by one vote in 2013. Lopez had made passing the change a priority before he left office.

“I can appreciate those that … have concerns about this,” Lopez said. “We’re not breaking ground. Every city around us allows chickens.

“It’s not like we have a mass exodus from other cities that are seeking refuge in Chandler because of chickens.”

There are only two scheduled meetings left for the current council. Encinas and Poston are scheduled to be sworn in on Jan. 12.

To force a referendum, opponents must collect 5,619 verifiable signatures of Chandler residents in a 30-day window that will start after the measure’s final adoption, scheduled for Dec. 5.

That number is determined by the number of votes cast in the last certified city election, which in this case is the August Primary. They need 10% of the 56,181 votes cast in that election to overturn a council decision.

That is only one option.

In his presentation before the vote, he said both Encinas and Poston indicated they would not support changing ordinances to allow for backyard chickens. Both Lopez and Roe voted in favor.

So Minkus is hopeful that combined with the two no votes last week from OD Harris and Matt Orlando, they might be able to repeal the change once the new council is seated.

If the change stands, here is how Chandler residents can own backyard chickens:

• There is a limit of five hens, no roosters.

• This is for single-family lots inside city limits. Homeowners Associations may have their own rules that prohibit chickens.

• Chickens must be contained in a side or back yard. The coop must be at least five feet away from all property lines.

• Any coop that exceeds 7 feet in height, or 120 square feet overall, will need a building permit. Any coop with any utilities (water or electric) needs a building permit.

Avondale and Fountain Hills are the only Valley towns that ban backyard chickens on residential properties. Glendale allows them, but only on lots 10,000 square feet and bigger.

“I appreciate the input from the public saying that just because a couple of council members are coming that we shouldn’t be making decisions for the city,” Lopez said after a couple of speakers suggested leaving this decision for the next Council to decide.

“I find that kind of disingenuous, because that means every vote for the last six months then are not valid. I just I have concerns with that line of thought, because we were elected also to do a job and to represent our community.

“And there’s loads of people that are encouraged and want to have chickens, we also need to consider their inputs,” Lopez added. “So I’ll leave it at that.”