Riverton proposes raising cap on backyard chickens

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Riverton • The city Planning Commission has recommended approval of an ordinance amendment that would allow homeowners to have up to six backyard chickens on a lot of half an acre or smaller.

The proposal, endorsed on a 3-2 vote of the commission Thursday night, must go before the City Council for final approval and no date has yet been set for that consideration.

Currently, Riverton allows just two pets — including chickens — per household.

The recommended change did not sit well with Michael C. Johnson, a retiree, who wants the current limits of two chickens per half-acre lot to remain in force.

"You get chickens, you get rats and you get mice. You get all kinds of animals that come with them," Johnson said.

He is also worried that there will be no real enforcement, adding he has been told by city officials that Riverton's ordinance officer has no real authority to go onto someone's property to verify the number of fowl.

"I think the people that want chickens ought to move back to Salt Lake [City]," Johnson said.

Greg Hill, an engineer, on the other hand, wants to see this ordinance adopted.

"I moved to Riverton six years ago, in part because I wanted to keep chickens," Hill said, adding that six seems like a fair and reasonable limit.

Assistant City Attorney Casey Taylor assured commission members that the amendment was intended to affect only household pets and is not aimed at accommodating commercial chicken or egg operations.

"Instead of encouraging people to have lots of chickens it actually sets limits so it doesn't get out of hand. For people who have chickens, once again, it encourages them to keep it under control," Taylor said.