Chickens are at the center of a topic that has ruffled some feathers between the Belgrade City Council and residents. Now, this upcoming election day, Nov. 2, residents can decide whether to allow chickens within Belgrade city limits.
“It's been to the city so many times that we need to have this go to the voters to let them decide,” says Belgrade Mayor Russ Nelson.
It's been a process at least 10 years in the making with the most recent being in 2018 and 2020.
The Belgrade City Council came close to allowing chickens in 2018 but ultimately voted against allowing chickens in city limits.
“They finally gave in and said let's leave it up to the people,” says Bill Siebrasse, an organizer for Coop Troop. “At least it's on the ballot now, whereas the city council was the determining factor.”
It's been a back and forth between residents and the city.
“Chickens carry diseases, they stink and they bring predators. I'm of the belief that chickens should be on a farm,” says Nelson.
“They are just like any other pet you have in your backyard. You have to clean up after them, you have to take care of them, they are still an animal that needs to be cared for,” says Siebrasse.
If the ballot measure does pass, Belgrade residents will only be allowed to have up to 6 chickens, and only if they have a lot size bigger than 7000 square feet. Residents would still have to go through a permit process from the city.
Siebrasse hopes that Belgrade allows chickens in city limits as a healthier way for residents to know where their food comes from. Ultimately voters will decide the fate of chickens on Nov. 2.
“Council was tired of dealing with it and we have dealt with it four times within 10 years and voted it down every time, so this should put finality to it,” says Nelson.
Gallatin County sent ballots to residents on Oct.13, and voters have until no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day to turn in their ballots on Nov. 2.
A ballot drop box is available at Belgrade City Hall, 91 East Central Avenue, Belgrade. Ballots can also be returned to the Gallatin County Election Department at 311 W. Main St., Room 210, in Bozeman.