Cambridge residents petition city for chickens

Austin HarringtonStaff Writeraharrington@amestrib.com

A petition signed by 253 Cambridge residents that asked the city to allow people to raise chickens within city limits was delivered to the Cambridge City Council at its monthly meeting Monday night.

In a town of just over 800 people, with roughly 500 being adults according to the latest census data, 253 adults is a significant amount of the population, according to Josh Michel, one of the Cambridge residents who started the petition.

“Basically what that means is 97.6 percent of the population that we’ve contacted are in support of this petition,” Michel said.

According to Michel, the mission is simple, to alter one section of the city code that states, “It is unlawful for a person to keep livestock within the city except by written consent of the council or except in compliance with the city’s zoning regulations.”

“Travis Rhiner and I started the petition basically because we thought there was need in our community to provide for our families and our children domesticated chickens,” Michel said. “Not only does it provide accountability and responsibility for children but it also provides healthier food for our families and it also provides food stability items for our families. It’s even a great 4-H project as well.”

In the petition, which was signed by all but six people who were approached for support, Michel claims that cities such as Ames, Slater, Maxwell, Huxley, Collins and Des Moines all allow for domestic chickens to be raised within city limits.

He added that several organizations that work with these animals on a regular basis have offered their support for the change in Cambridge city code, including the Iowa Organic Association, Iowa Poultry Association, Iowa Ag Industry Center, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University Extension Office, Story County 4-H and Murray McMurray Hatchery.

The item was tabled until next month to give the City Council members time to look into the plan before they take a vote on the change. That vote could take place on Aug. 1 at the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting.