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Arizona Lawmakers Seek to Allow Chickens in Every Backyard

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A bill backed by 22 legislators aims to prevent Arizona cities from prohibiting chickens in residential neighborhoods, ruffling a few feathers across the state.

At first glance, the most interesting thing about Senate Bill 1151 appears to be the unlimited potential of bad puns. However, the bill proposed by Republican Senator David Farnsworth addresses the larger issue of city versus homeowner in Arizona, saying property rights are "of statewide concern."

Although cities couldn't outright prohibit chickens in residential neighborhoods under the bill, they could limit the number of chickens in residential lots. They could also prohibit roosters, unless the rooster is "incapable of making noise."

Arizona cities currently have individual regulations regarding chicken rights, ranging from Tuscon, which allows up to 24 chickens on residential lots, to Sierra Vista, which prohibits them completely. Chandler allows chicken and roosters in agricultural areas, but it recently considered allowing up to five hens per single-family residential properties. However, in one of its more meetings, the Chandler City Council voted against it 4-3 last July.

"People made expenditures and spent money buying homes with the expectation that this wasn't allowed," Councilman Jeff Weninger said at the meeting. "So I believe once that expectation is created, people have every right to expect that it is going to be upheld."

The Chandler law is in place for now. But if the bill passes, it will overrule any city laws regarding chicken rights.

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