TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson City Council unanimously approved an "urban agriculture" ordinance that will allow more people living in city limits to keep chicken coops in their back yards.
The ordinance, approved Tuesday, amends the prior rule that chicken coops must be kept 50 feet away from any homes. Now, they only have to be 20 feet away.
Because many people did not have 50 feet separating them from their neighbors, but still wanted the benefits of keeping chickens, many had illegal coops prior to last night's decision.
"We saw a lot of people lose their chickens and it's actually very heartbreaking. I mean, bringing people to tears they get so attached to their chickens," said Brittany Lockwood, who has ten chickens in her east side back yard.
As the crowd of outspoken urban chicken coop advocates cheered at the City Council's decision announcement, Lockwood cheered along with them from her home.
She said she has had her coop for over a year and while she knew it was against city code, for her, the benefits outweighed the risks.
The first benefit most people think of is the fresh eggs the chickens lay.
"We know that they're fresh and they actually taste cleaner than pasteurized eggs," said Lockwood.
Lockwood said the chickens also eat bugs around the house and their droppings can be used for composting.
Some of the chickens are also very friendly and Lockwood said she and her family consider them as pets. She said her family has also learned responsibility and environmentally friendly practices from caring for the chickens.
"Mainly the lessons that it can bring to children, who are our future, and what they can do in making the earth a better place," said Lockwood.
More than 2,000 people are part of a closed Facebook group called "Tucson Clucks" for those who own chicken coops inside city limits. However, Lockwood suspects that number will now grow as she thinks many people would not previously join because they were afraid their coops would be taken away if they were illegal.