The subject of homeowners in Maricopa County, Arizona, raising chickens in their backyards has a long and contentious history. At various times smaller communities within the country have enacted local codes both allowing and banning small scale poultry and egg production, and the county itself has played on both sides of the feathered fence with regard to the unincorporated areas within the county.
The raising of chickens is a tough call for local elected officials. On the one hand they want to protect the property rights of the little guy, the people who want to use their God-given property rights to stockpile guns and raise whatever they damn well please. On the other hand is, of course, the local plutocrats and rich snowbirds (and ferocious home-owners associations) with piles of campaign cash who want to protect their own property rights - and property values. Those people definitely don't want the odor and noise of chickens wafting through their rarefied air.
Arizona's legendary two-bit political animals are damned if they do - and damned if they don't. What's a pandering politician to do?
State Senator David Farnsworth has decided to tackle the issue with some statewide legislation. He has put forth a bill that would override existing local laws and allow the raising of backyard poultry anywhere in the state. Cities could still impose some limits, but homeowners would be free to build a chicken coop anywhere on their property - including right up next to the property line so the neighbors could enjoy it also.
Senator Farnsworth proclaimed:
"The proper role of government according to the U.S. Constitution and the Arizona Constitution is to protect the liberty of the people, and liberty of the people is being eroded - particularly property rights."
Ken Strobeck of the League of Cities and Towns sees the issue a bit differently. Strobeck noted that people who purchase homes in areas where strange noises and smells are not in evidence or anticipated at the time of purchase have their property rights infringed upon with the introduction of poultry into the neighborhood.
What a whiner!
The Farnsworth bill does address the noise concern by denying backyard poultry producers the right to raise roosters - an obvious gender discrimination issue that will never stand up in court - particularly if it gets as far as the infamous Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals!
Roosters have rights, too - you know.