BY DAVID ANDERSON, email@example.com
9:52 AM EDT, May 27, 2014
An Aberdeen resident who was banned from keeping chickens in his backyard two years ago is continuing his drive to get city officials to overturn a law against owning and raising poultry in the city.
"I'm quite offended, personally, that I'm asked to basically choose between living in Aberdeen and doing what's best to provide for my family," Frank Turner, who is a civilian contractor at Aberdeen Proving Ground, told the council during the public comment portion of the last city council meeting on May 19.
Turner has brought signed petitions to prior meetings, and he appeared before the council Monday with a petition bearing 94 signatures in favor of allowing him to keep chickens.
He said he had collected signatures from his neighbors and the general public during the county's recent Earth Day celebration in Aberdeen's Festival Park.
Turner said he received "very enthusiastic community support from my neighborhood," and all but one of his neighbors signed the petition.
He noted that keeping backyard chickens is in the spirit of Earth Day, that they can be good for the environment by keeping the soil healthy with their droppings and as they scratch at the ground looking for food.
Mayor Mike Bennett maintained that "we have a law on the books," despite Turner's protests.
In 2012, city officials ordered Chesapeake Drive resident Turner to get rid of his six chickens, which lived in a coop in his yard.
City residents are banned by law from raising poultry because of noise and health concerns.
Turner has been petitioning the council since late March to have the law overturned.
Council pushes back
Members of the city council have taken the offensive after finding themselves the subjects of mockery in recent weeks.
They had expressed concerns that the risk of avian diseases from backyard chickens was great enough to shut down the massive neighboring Army post, according to recent media accounts.
Councilwoman Sandra Landbeck stressed she had been misquoted when she previously voiced concerns about chickens and APG.
"I simply asked that we contact the Proving Ground and ask their input on the issue of the chickens," she said.
Landbeck said she had previously read about the risk of an avian influenza virus mutating and becoming airborne, greatly increasing the danger to humans, but she noted that risk is "a long way" off.
"I do not think that chickens are going to cause the demise of Aberdeen Proving Ground," she said.
Councilwoman Ruth Ann Young read a statement in support of Landbeck's position, and stressed the danger from avian flu.
She claimed "one sick bird can pose a threat 10 miles away."
"That one sick bird can place much of the county in a quarantine zone," she said.
Landbeck was quoted as saying in The Record newspaper May 9, during a council work session that "I think they would like us to be good neighbors, because if there was any negative fallout, they would have to shut that base down, and that has national implications."