PRINCETON — The Princeton City Council shot down a proposed ordinance Monday that would allow chickens to be kept by residents within city limits.
The current city ordinance allows for chickens to be kept in agricultural zoned areas, but council members voted to nix any backyard flocks within the residential areas of the city.
The debate began at the end of 2020, with the majority of the council supporting chickens being allowed in residential areas with regulations on the size of flocks and the exclusion of roosters. However, the council with the exception of Hector Gomez, voted against it after negative feedback they say they’ve heard from residents since the subject came up for consideration.
Councilman Jerry Neumann was the first to say he was against the idea based on feedback from residents concerned about how well chickens would be managed inside city limits and the negative connotation backyard birds could give to the city.
“I don’t think it will make Princeton more desirable, " Neumann said. “I think it will do the opposite.”
Mike McCall voted against the ordinance saying he too heard opposition from residents.
Martin Makransky said he too is against the idea based on health concerns including salmonella that can be spread by improperly handled yard waste and possible vermin that could be attracted by chickens.
Makransky said he believes it puts homeowners at a greater burden to keep backyard flocks clean and prevent their birds from disturbing surrounding neighbors.
Gomez, the lone councilman to vote to advance the ordinance to a second reading, said the burden to keep flocks clean and respect neighborhood boundaries falls on homeowners and limiting the size of flocks would mitigate possible negative side effects.
Mayor Joel Quiram weighed in on the debate saying current ordinance allows chickens in agricultural zones, and though backyard chickens have not previously been allowed, he is aware people have skirted the ordinance and had chickens anyway. Quiram said complaints from neighbors about backyard owners allowing chickens to roam and not keeping a clean environment for them have been a concern for the city.
“People did have them and did support being able to have them,” Quiram told the council. “So we thought the ordinance deserved a vote, but I have to agree with the majority here who are against it for residential areas.”
The council will come back with another ordinance proposal and its next meeting that will likely limit flocks to agricultural-only areas and more strictly enforce residential violations.