BLOG: Council nixes backyard chicken ordinance, approves park acquisition 

A few citizens who currently raise backyard chickens in Oklahoma City spoke in favor of a proposed ordinance that would make the practice legal.

Those appeals were not enough to convince the city council, and raising chickens in backyards will remain an illegal practice following a 5-to-4 vote against the ordinance during Tuesday’s meeting.

OKC’s urban council members backed the ordinance that would have allowed residents living on property smaller than one acre to raise chickens, while representatives of the city’s suburban wards said they were worried about the impact on neighbors.

Council members James Greiner (Ward 1), Larry McAtee (Ward 3), David Greenwell (Ward 5), John Pettis Jr. (Ward 7) and Patrick Ryan (Ward 8) voted against the ordinance. Mayor Mick Cornett, along with council members Ed Shadid (Ward 2), Meg Salyer (Ward 6) and Pete White (Ward 4), voted in favor.

Park land The city council also voted to expand the area surrounding a proposed downtown park where the city might purchase land in an effort to control development around the MAPS 3 project.

The council voted 6 to 3 to expand the acquisition area; however, the vote was not a purchase agreement. Ward 1 Councilman James Greiner questioned the city’s role in controlling the development surrounding the proposed park.

“I always thought the way that government controls what is developed is through zoning,” Greiner said. “Why can’t we just trust the market to develop these areas on their own?”

Cathy O’Connor, president of The Alliance for Economic Development in Oklahoma City, said purchasing land around the proposed park would give the city a chance to have complete control over what type of development is brought to the area.

“Typically, we like to trust the market,” O’Connor told the council. “But the area is so important to the city ... we want to make sure we get the kind of development we want and have some way of controlling it.”

The city has not used eminent domain to acquire property around the park, but the council’s vote on Tuesday gives the city the opportunity to do so in the future.

New city flag? Students from Dove Science Academy in Oklahoma City addressed the city council with ideas for a new city flag. John Bratt, a history teacher at the academy, said he wanted to promote civic pride with a new image for Oklahoma City.

“My main goal is to get the conversation started to perhaps change [how] our city is represented from the flagpole,” Bratt said.

Several students showed off their ideas for a new flag, including Elizabeth Pope, a ninth-grader at Dove. Pope’s design incorporated red colors to symbolize the blood shed during the Oklahoma City bombing and black to represent the region’s oil wealth.

“It’s kind of complicated,” Pope said about the city’s current flag and seal. “Just the seal in general is hard to make out. It’s really hard to commit to memory.”

The city council did not discuss making a change to the city’s flag.

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