There's a certain frontier quality about life in Hudson. People make spontaneous U-turns in the middle of the block, roll through stop signs, dump whole bags of fast-food trash in the street, blast their car radios, roar down Warren Street on motorcycles, deal drugs in public parks--all seemingly without compunction or fear of retribution. Now there's a new law being contemplated by the Common Council Legal Committee that could set the stage for an Oklahoma! style rivalry between the owners of different kinds of livestock.
One of the agenda items at last night's Legal Committee meeting was a revised chicken law, lifting the ban on keeping chickens within the city limits of Hudson. Alderman John Friedman (Third Ward), who chairs the committee, is pursuing this change in the law because "several people," one of whom is his wife, want to raise chickens to produce eggs. According to Victor Mendolia, chair of the Hudson City Democratic Committee who was present at the meeting, there are "a number of people in Hudson who are already keeping chickens" and would like their now illegal activity legitimized.
After a brief exchange of bad chicken-inspired puns by Friedman and committee members Don Moore (Council president) and David Marston (First Ward alderman), Mayor William Hallenbeck explained that the current law (Section 70.16 of the City Code), adopted in 2004, making it illegal to keep chickens in Hudson, was adopted in response to a particular incident that occurred in the city. A dog got into a chicken yard and killed some chickens. The owner of the chickens took his own revenge and shot the offending dog with a gun. Hallenbeck expressed concern about creating a "controversy between chicken owners and dog owners."
There are enough laws in Hudson that go unenforced, for various reasons, by the police and code enforcement. What we don't need is a new law that would allow the creation of potential nuisance situations (chicken coops, we're told, attract rats) and would require a higher level of monitoring and enforcement than the current law. If there are people in Hudson keeping chickens despite the fact that it is illegal, and the Code Enforcement Office is doing nothing about it, how can there be any assurance that all the safeguards being written into the law to prevent chicken coops from becoming a public health nuisance--as well as a threat to people's quiet enjoyment of their homes--will be enforced?