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Chicken-Keeping Attacked in Black Jack, Council Meeting Tonight

Rare breed of chickens and chicken keeping in general threatened in Black Jack - city council meeting tonight

On April 25, 2012, Leah Thornsen of the Post Dispatch did a front page feature article under the Community section on Guy Niere and his backyard chickens. A top by-line states, cutely, "Egged on by residents, more and more towns approve".

However that knowledge seems to have skipped the mayor of Black Jack.  He has made an issue of singling out Guy and has given him until July 2 to get rid of his flock of birds. And the mayor has no idea of what kind of birds that he is condemning.

Guy not only has chickens for laying eggs, he is one of 8 breeders in the US who are trying to preserve the rare Black Penedesenca.  This breed was brought back from the edge of extinction in the 1980's by efforts of the Spanish government and Catalan University. Renouned as the second darkest egg layer, this chicken has a white ear lobe - unusual in that ear lobe colour dictates the colour of eggs laid - this breed is an anomaly in the animal world.  There were 80 eggs shipped to the US, 13 of which hatched.  The birds that Guy has are from these eggs, and his preservation programme and his years of research on genetics are threatened to be thrown away for naught.

The mayor apparently does not know that his very close neighbours - and upwards of a dozen citizens in Black Jack - keep chickens. Guy Niere advised the Richmond Heights City Council on their chicken keeping agenda.  As a result, chicken keeping was approved and passed.  Creve Coeur, Ellisville, Shrewsbury - many, many municipalities have joined and embraced the sustainable living culture movement which has been documented by Wall Street, National Public Radio, and many publications and is now so acknowledged as to be old news.  Guy teaches beginner and advanced backyard chicken keeping classes at St. Louis Community College. The courses encompass nutrition, genetics, housing, law, zoning and coding, and sustainable agriculture.  Guy is not just, well, "a guy" keeping a few birds around harassing people. His neighbours are all very upset and are creating a petition to pass around to sign in favour of his chicken keeping programme.

By condemning Guy's chickens, the city of Black Jack is combating the local sustainable food movement culture.  Incorporated in 1970, its history seeps back in time.  Guy's family has lived and farmed in this area since the 1870's.  He has had and kept chickens since he was a child.  Generic chickens, for food and eggs, are laudable enough, but his breeding restoration programme of the Spanish Black Penedesencas, and the unfeasible time frame of 4 weeks to dispose of them, is a travesty.

There is a city hall meeting in Black Jack tonight.  It starts at 7:30 pm.  Visitors may attend and sign up on a roster to voice their agenda. The address is 12500 Old Jamestown Road 63033.  Many of us from the local St. Louis Backyard Chicken Meetup group will be in attendance. 

If you don't think that your personal rights might be taken from you - think again.  Recently Ballwin passed an ordinance allowing chickens then turned around and banned them, leaving chicken owners in the lurch.  Chickens make less nuisance noise than barking dogs and provide food in the form of eggs and fertilizer for the gardens and are very companionable pets, there should not be such an issue on the banning of them from municipalities.

Please come and voice your concern and support for chicken keepers.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Doug Miner June 06, 2012 at 12:33 PM
Dorene, Really sorry to see that it didn't work out for Guy in the meeting last night.
Dorene Olson June 06, 2012 at 04:07 PM
The meeting was extraordinarily well supported and attended, even the mayor expressed surprise at the numbers of people who spoke in favor of keeping chickens. I hope that he will reconsider. The council people were very generous with their time afterward and stayed on to speak with many of us individually to further understand our points of view. I am hoping for a positive outcome for all of the Black Jack residents.
Briana M June 11, 2012 at 09:21 PM
After 7 years buidling a sustainable living on our property by gardening and raising bees and poultry, the City of Byrnes Mill is trying to take away my rights. The city wants to place "limits" on the number of bees and poultry we can keep; that "limit" would not allow me to have most of my birds. The Mayor confirmed to me that they never had a complaint about either. I was told that one alderperson's reason was that they want to "mitigate a nuisance perceived by some". There are laws on the books already that would take care of any "nuisance" issues. They do not need to apply limits, bad owners will create nuisances even with 1 bird or bee hive; it is not right to penalize the good owners.
Dorene Olson June 12, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Briana, thank you for your comments. I am so sorry that you are suffering the same mindless prosecution. If there are no complaints, if you have substantiating records of health/code/cleanliness compliance, vet records, etc, if neighbors are not in opposition to your operations, then this should be a moot point. If nothing else, you should be created and held up to as a STANDARD of how sustainable living should be pursued, and there is an entire nation full of states of people who are doing what you are doing, down to roof tops of sky risers in New York City. Good luck with your gardens and bees and chickens, I wonder if there is a way that Byrnes Mill and Black Jack can confer with one another and get more educated about a movement that has swept the nation - with POSITIVE INFLUENCE - for more than a decade.

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