City leaders hatch rules for chickens

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The Kilgore City Council’s debate about new rules to regulate chickens in the city limits had some residents crying fowl Tuesday night.

As far as which came first – the chicken or the ordinance – there are no guidelines currently on the books while there are plenty of chickens and coops already spread throughout the community.

Beckley Street resident Amber Parrish made a passionate plea on behalf of her two chickens and her son, who cherishes them.

“They’re literally my little girls,” she told council members, intelligent and sweet. “We raised them from 3 years-old, me and my son. I love them like I love my dog.”

Parrish keeps her birds cooped most of the time and keeps a close eye on them when they get some time outside.

“I don’t think it is fair to punish the entire City of Kilgore, every one of us who have our babies, because of a few people that don’t contain theirs.”

The council’s question Tuesday was whether to add chickens – along with turkeys, guineas and similar fowl – to the city’s definition of “livestock,” which would limit them to agriculturally-zoned property.

“We’re not talking about coming and removing your chickens,” Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck assured various guests in the audience, many of whom spoke in defense of their chickens. “As a pet lover, I know how hard that would be if you had to get rid of an animal you love.

That said, “As we sit here today, our code is unclear from any perspective.”

Not every person who keeps chickens cares for them and their cage as carefully as others, council member Merlyn Holmes said.

“There are a lot of people out there that have very nasty backyards. They’re not only in their yards they’re in other people’s yards.”

At a request for direction for the city’s special services superintendent, B.J. Owen, the council members ultimately tasked him to research other community’s rules about how many chickens a person can keep on a set amount of land.

“Let’s address a potential number and enforcement,” Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon said.

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