So, a fuller story for those who are following my chicken drama. On Friday I was visited by code enforcement officers, telling me that chickens are against code in our city. They gave me a notice that I had 72 hours to move them out of city limits. We complied, but Monday, I was on the phone. I called each of our towns five city councilmen, who were listed on the city's website. I was given the numbers from a clerk who answered at the city's number. I was able to share our story with each of them in a very laidback manner and ask for help and counsel. All were supportive and some were even surprised that they were excluded by our city codes. I was asked to speak at the next council meeting....the next evening.
With little time to prepare, I went to Backyard Chickens and some other sites for help. BYC has an excellent forum, including a place to discuss City Codes and Ordinances and How to Change Them. So much great information gathered in one place!! I read and read and read and read. I PM'ed and e-mailed and consulted. I cut and pasted and wrote. Finally I had a speech that I could say in three minutes.
We went to the brand new library and city council chambers at about 6:15. We browsed around in the children's room and visited with Miss Heidi, the Children's Librarian. At 6:50, we entered the chambers. I filled out my yellow Citizen's Request card that signaled my intention to speak and gave it to the clerk. The names of the council members were in front of their seats, and I realized that I, thinking he was one of the councilmen, had also called and spoken directly to the mayor of our city the day before.
The meeting was called to order at 7 PM and everyone stood to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. After that, a prayer was offered, using the name of Jesus Christ and asking His blessing over our city and for wisdom for the men and women making decisions. How wonderfully surprising!
Then then Mayor got down to business and called ME! FIRST! Oh, my heart began beating SO fast! I walked to the front and began. There was a timer counting down with accompanying green, yellow and red lights. I heard my voice reading the speech and sounding too shaky. My legs even began trembling! I concluded in the right amount of time and thanked the council for considering our request. I returned to my seat and felt my face flush! I had to fold my papers and fan myself for a few minutes.
Then there was some discussion between the councilmen. All seemed to be in favor of allowing hens in the city limits. One councilman said he thought it was a great thing in this economy, backyard victory gardens and all that self-sufficiency....one offered the idea that since they already specifically allow 2 cats and 3 dogs, perhaps they could change the code to read 5 "animal units". They thanked us for coming and promised to continue working toward a code change.
We listened to the rest of the meeting, some of which was interesting, some of which didn't make much sense to me. Troubles feel asleep on Daddy's lap. The meeting wrapped up just after 8 PM. We stood, stretched and began shaking hands with folks that came up to us. The Mayor and the Vice Mayor came over and greeted us. The Vice Mayor asked for some additional information. A woman from one of our local newspapers asked me to send her the text of my speech and took our names and number for a story.
I apologized to the Lambies for not having more sympathy for them when they did their homeschool presentations. I participated in plays and speech tournaments throughout high school, but don't remember ever feeling nervous like I did before the council! We took the kids out for a treat afterward, to celebrate stepping out of our comfort zone.
I have the additional information ready and am awaiting an appointment to speak with the Vice Mayor and/or the City Manager this week. The next city council meeting is on