Next Door to Livestock — One Denver resident’s experience


If the ordinance currently before the Denver City Council to allow virtually anyone to keep chickens and goats passes, what would this mean for Denver?

Denver currently allows chickens and goats in residential areas but only under highly restrictive conditions, and probably fewer than a dozen households have the permits to do so.  Roseanne Jelacic is therefore one of the few people in Denver to live next door to someone legally keeping chickens and goats.  Last Monday she sent an e-mail letter to all the members of the Denver City Council concerning her experiences.  After receiving her permission, I have reprinted it below (deleting only contact information).

Ironically, her neighbor who is keeping the chickens and goats is none other than Sundari Kraft, one of the main proponents of the new proposed ordinance.

I have written about my own views on backyard chickens and goats on February 27, March 21, and March 27.  Kate wrote about it on February 14.  Roseanne Jelacic was previously interviewed on this same topic on a “Colorado Matters” program that aired on July 2, 2010, which you can listen to at this link:

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From: Roseanne Jelacic

Sent: Monday, April 04, 2011 11:08 PM

To: Sandoval, Paula E. – City Council; Faatz, Jeanne R. – City Council Dist #2; Lopez, Paul D. – City Council Dist #3; Lehmann, Peggy A. – City Council Dist #4; Johnson, Marcia M. – City Council Dist #5; Brown, Charlie – City Council District #6; Nevitt, Chris – City Council Dist #7; Madison, Carla A. – City Council Dist #8; Montero, Judy H. – City Council District #9; Robb, Jeanne – City Council Dist. #10; Hancock, Michael B. – City Council Dist. #11; Boigon, Carol S. – City Council At Large; Linkhart, Doug – City Council

Subject: New Food Producing Animals Ordinance and the Rights of Denver Homeowners / What I Have Learned

Dear Member of the Denver City Council,

Sundari Kraft, a key player in the effort to pass a new Food Producing Animals ordinance, is my neighbor which means I live right next door to her urban animal farm. Close proximity to an urban animal farm has been instructive. I am determined to share what I have learned and to speak out for the rights of Denver home owners.

I implore all Council Members (and, in particular, Council President Nevitt, who is championing the ordinance that Kraft and Sustainable Food Denver wish to pass) to carefully read and take to heart what I have learned:

1. Anyone whose property sits adjacent to an urban animal farm should expect an increase in the population of birds in their yard. With an increased population of birds comes an increased level of bird excrement.

In my case, the adjacent Kraft farm has NO trees in its urban farm yard. I have a few trees and, attracted by food on the urban animal farm, hungry birds sit in my trees and, as they wait to swoop down into the Kraft farm yard, fill the space below my trees with their droppings.

Never having consulted me, Kraft uses the wooden slat fence (that separates our backyards) as one wall of her goat and chicken pen. Focused on the Kraft urban animal farm, birds also sit along the top of this fence with their birdy business ends overhanging my side; this means that it is my side of the fence that is whitewashed in bird droppings.

The floor of Kraft’s goat and chicken pen is covered in loose hay which works its way through the bottom and sides of the ageing wooden fence slats. Sometimes, accompanied by small round turds of unknown origin (goat, perhaps?), hay falls into my yard.

By saying NO to that urban animal farm next door, your home-owning constituents can avoid having their fence whitewashed in bird-droppings and a turd-laced fringe of hay along the urban-farm-side of their yard.

2. My dog, who lived here before the farm existed, does NOT appreciate the goats and chickens who moved in next door. He runs along the fence (and therefore through the bird droppings) crying and sometimes barking at the urban farm animals. This is beyond unpleasant.

By saying NO to that urban animal farm next door, your dog-and-home-owning constituents can avoid this blood-pressure affecting situation – and the bird excrement their canines might track into their homes.

3. Just as real farms do, urban farms generate odors. While not in evidence each and every day, when they arise, farm smells are disagreeable.

By saying NO to that urban animal farm next door, your home-owning constituents can avoid the unpleasant aroma of animal-pens.

4. Goats do two things very loudly: (1) baa-bray-shout when they need to be milked, and (2) pass gas. And chickens, I have learned, sometimes descend into paroxysms of screeching and clucking out of the blue and for no apparent reason.

By saying NO to that urban animal farm next door, your home-owning constituents can avoid having their peaceful backyards invaded by rude noises.

5. Fox and coyote live in the city of Denver. I have seen both on my street.

By saying NO to that urban animal farm next door, your home-owning constituents can avoid inviting fox and coyote onto their streets and, perhaps, into their yards.

I earnestly RECOMMEND that ANYONE who lives or might live adjacent to ANYONE who decides to house chickens and/or goats on their property have the right to NOT APPROVE/ DISALLOW/JUST SAY NO TO/GET RID OF that urban animal farm next door.

Toward this end and in plain speech, please:

· Describe your efforts to inform ALL Denver home owners of the new Food Producing Animals ordinance and to solicit home owner feedback.

· Provide the impact statement and/or study that details how, if approved, the new Food Producing Animals ordinance affects Denver home owners.

· Publicize and make available to all Denver home owners a clear description of the rights they relinquish if the new Food Producing Animals ordinance is passed.

· Explain guidance you have sought and received from animal rights organizations and/or animal experts, and will incorporate into the new Food Producing Animals ordinance, regarding the amount of space required to house farm animals – humanely — in an urban back yard.

When Sundari Kraft knocked on my door three years ago and asked if I would mind if she obtained some chickens and goats, for me, a city dweller, her question brought to mind the pleasant sight of a children’s petting zoo. With that delusional thought in my head, and now much to my regret, I said I would not mind.

Please know that I would NEVER say yes to urban farm animals living next door to me ever again! And, to the extent possible, may what I have learned stand as a warning to others.

As more urban animal farms crop up, the more neighbors of urban farmers there will be. Once these neighbors to urban farmers, your constituents, figure out what they are in for, you will hear from them.

Very sincerely yours,

Roseanne Jelacic

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