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Council must have final say on Columbiana chicken issue

Being awakened to the sound of roosters crowing at dawn is a beautiful thing — provided of course that you’re waking up in the country and that’s the way you like to start your day.

If you’re a city dweller, however, you might prefer being roused from your sleep by something other than the sound of farm animals.

The city of Columbiana is currently embroiled in a chicken controversy. Several residents have been violating zoning rules for years by keeping chickens within city limits in an area that is zoned residential, not agricultural.

Instead of moving to the country where such activities are permissible, these city-dwelling chicken raisers have been petitioning the city to change the laws to allow them to keep their fowl.

The problem began when city officials became lax in enforcing the rules prohibiting chickens. Now, these residents have grown used to having their own chickens and a daily supply of fresh eggs. When city manager Lance Willard sent out letters notifying chicken owners they were in violation and ordering the chickens removed, they became upset.

Council has punted the issue back to the planning commission twice for a possible change in the law, but the planning commission has stood firm in its refusal to recommend a change. Good for them.

Obviously the original writers of the law believed that chickens belong in the country, not within residentially zoned areas of the city and if the planning commission has not been convinced otherwise, members are wise to refuse to be backed into allowing a change.

If council wants to change the law, then it could overrule the commission and vote to change the law. Or as one planning commission member suggested, council could put it on the ballot for residents to decide.

But council should quit playing chicken by trying to force the planning commission into changing regulations for something they don’t believe should be allowed in the first place.

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