Property Rights

Ogden chicken restrictions become less cooped up


After years of effort to change the law, Ogden residents are now able to have more discretion over their own property as a result of a City Council decision allowing backyard chickens. This was decided with a close 4-3 vote on Tuesday after lengthy public input and debate.

During Tuesday’s meeting there was a plethora of support for backyard chickens, with 21 of the 23 public comments supporting the city’s move to allow them. Residents want to be able to use their land for their own beneficial purposes without the intrusion of government micromanagement.

Under the new ordinance, up to six chickens will be allowed in a fully enclosed area no smaller than 2,000 square feet. Although the plan is a good step towards the fundamental right to use one’s own property, it does include a few unreasonably restrictive aspects. Chickens are all required to be licensed on an annual basis, costing $5 per chicken. The ordinance also requires individuals to obtain a land use permit, complete with an inspection from the city. Additionally, chicken owners are prohibited from selling the eggs and fertilizer produced from the chickens.

Proponents of the new ordinance presented multiple benefits of chicken ownership such as the move to sustainable backyard food growth and ecosystem. They pointed out that chickens are not only good for families, but also add to a more natural and healthy outdoor environment.

Those opposed to backyard chickens voiced their concern over chicken coops possibly attracting raccoons and other wild animals. They also fear that this ordinance will open the doors for Ogden City to become a “barnyard city” with the eventual allowance of other animals.

While the ordinance is by no means ideal, it does demonstrate positive progress towards the ultimate goal of restoring freedom to the people of Ogden to peaceably use their own property as they desire.

Private property rights were an essential reason for this country’s founding and remain an important principle in the minds of many Americans. But over time, local governments have restricted the right to use one’s property, limiting everything from the size, style, and lighting of your dwelling, to the outdoor landscaping and pet ownership at your own home. The continued enactment of restrictive property policies leads to violations of the rights of individuals to use their property as they would like.

Because of Ogden’s previous ban on backyard chicken ownership, Ogden City was given a low ranking of the 45th least free city for animal restrictions in Utah in our 2015 Freest Cities Index. This calculation was based on research covering each city’s land use laws pertaining to elements like dog licensing, chicken ownership, and beehive regulations. Ogden’s new chicken ordinance will likely increase their ranking in the next index we produce, though the heavy restrictions and regulatory interference in this newfound freedom might increase or eliminate that boost.

Residents throughout Utah should continue to urge their city councils to tackle petty local laws that violate their rights; on this issue alone, many more cities still ban backyard chickens. Success in changing these laws will result in a freer state with more opportunity for individuals to pursue their own interests without government barriers.