Request to allow chickens in Aberdeen is back before city council

An Aberdeen man who was forced to give up his chickens two years ago is back to petition city council members to overturn the law banning residents from raising poultry in Aberdeen.

Frank Turner of Chesapeake Court, who lost his chicken battle with the city in 2012, said he got 24 of his neighbors to sign a petition asking the city to allow all manner of pets within city limits.

"I am still very upset about this and am here to request the law be changed again," Turner said at a Monday council meeting, explaining he waited two years because of family and personal responsibilities.

Turner said his chickens provided his family with six eggs every day, which he calculates to be a saving of up to $650 annually.

"People have a very basic freedom to have pets they want to have for the reasons they choose," he said.

A neighbor, Kat York, joined him in asking the council to allow her to have chickens.

York and Turner both said chickens are clean, quieter than other pets and allowed in many other cities.

Turner said a complaint was made about another neighbor raising ducks, but the ducks were allowed to stay.

"On what moral authority do you determine what pets people are and are not allowed to have?" he asked.

Turner questioned past comments by one of the city council members, who he claims said at the time that the law "was for the betterment of the community" and they did not believe farm animals belonged in the city.

"Our freedom trumps your irrational fear of the unknown in allowing chickens," Turner said.

The city council never raised the idea of changing the law after Turner's original request in 2012, but City Manager Doug Miller said after the meeting that the issue would obviously again become a topic of discussion.

Campaign finance

After several weeks of review, the city council passed a bill Monday changing parts of Aberdeen's municipal election and campaign finance law.

The bill requires campaign treasurers to provide more detailed contact information, requires candidates to file a final report by Jan. 31 after an election specifying use of any surplus funds and requires candidates to give all campaign funds to designated sites within 60 days of an election. Aberdeen elections are held every four years in November, with the next city election scheduled for November 2015.

It also specifies that campaign contributions may be used only for printing campaign materials, meals and clothes for campaign workers, tent rentals, advertising, attending functions needed for exposure and other related expenses.

The changes are not in response to any specific incidents in Aberdeen, Miller said after the meeting.

He noted the city's election laws have not changed since the 1960s or 1970s, and other local boards of elections have suggested the changes based on problems they have seen in other jurisdictions.

The city's original campaign finance law "is not defined; it's very vague," Miller said.

The city council also passed a bill raising the fees for collecting trash containers for buildings with three or fewer units.

The bill raises the cost of containers up to 20 gallons from 40 cents to 50 cents, and the cost of containers larger than 20 gallons from 80 cents to $1.

Miller said the ordinance was a housekeeping item, as the fees were changed as part of the 2014 budget.

The council issued a proclamation to DeMolay, a leadership group for young men, in honor of DeMolay Month.

No electioneering

City resident Barbara Osborn Kreamer tried to use the public comment portion of the council meeting to announce she is running for Harford County Council, but Mayor Mike Bennett stopped her, saying discussion about elections or campaigns is not allowed at city council meetings.

Public Works Director Matt Lapinsky said his department continues to try to keep up with demand on fixing potholes. He encouraged residents to continue reporting them.

Miller said he plans to start discussion on the preliminary 2015 budget at the April 14 work session.

He said he also expects that eventually a formal report will be produced on the council's recent weekend retreat.

Councilwoman Sandra Landbeck said the report will let everyone see the council's vision for the city.

She called the retreat "incredible and exciting," saying that her body may have gotten tired from the 11-hour retreat, "but my brain certainly did not."

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