Fines & Jail Time for Keeping Chickens in Gilbert

Let’s say you keep 5 chickens in your backyard in Gilbert.  Your children consider them pets and have named them Honey-Bun, Suzie, Blondie, Wanda, and Pumpkin.  You consider them a source of nutritious food.  Let’s say you are unfortunate enough to live in a subdivision that is zoned SF-6 or SF-7.  Other people in other parts of Gilbert are allowed to have chickens.   They have bigger lots.   But your lot is only 6,000 or 7,000 square feet.  Your chickens are illegal.

Before I go into the details of this story (having changed the names of the chickens to protect their privacy), it’s important for you to know that until 2005 when Gilbert’s Land Development was "updated," you could have legally kept your five little chickens.  

The Town’s bureaucrats are always coming up with new ways to make Gilbert a "better place to live."  Better for some.  You might think that there are people on the Town Council who stand up for you, speak out for you, and protect your individual liberties and property rights.  

There are two:  Victor Petersen and Jared Taylor.  The other five don’t trust you with your "property rights."  It makes them very nervous.

Let’s say you aren’t a "lay down," and so you refuse to be intimidated by the harassment and threats from code enforcers.  You refuse to comply!  

How bad can it be?

Some time ago, I asked Kyle Mieras that question.  Kyle, whose current title is Interim Development Services Director, is a likable, all around pleasant fellow.  Here is his response.  (Emphasis is mine.)

"The Town of Gilbert’s Land Development Code requires a minimum 10 day notice once a violation has been determined.  If compliance is not met within that first 10 day timeframe, then staff generally sends a second notice via US Mail requesting compliance within 10 days from the date on the letter.  At that point, if no extenuating circumstance, i.e., the resident has been on vacation or out of town on business, has been brought forward and/or if there has been no contact with the resident, a citation may be issued. 

"If contact has been made and a reasonable request for additional time has been requested, staff can allow additional time and will send a final notice containing the information pertaining to the agreed upon compliance date.  If this timeframe is not met, staff may then issue a citation.  A civil citation can be issued for each day a violation continues. 

"In the event a civil citation is issued, the Town would ask that the matter be brought into compliance within 10 days from the citation issuance date to avoid a second citation.  If compliance is not met, a second civil citation may be issued asking again that the matter be brought into compliance within 10 days of the second citation issuance date.  If compliance has still not been met, a third civil citation may be issued.  If compliance is not achieved after the issuance of the third civil citation, a criminal citation may then be issued or the matter referred to the prosecutor for criminal action.  The schedule of fines for Land Development Code violations are: 1st offense – $248 , 2nd offense – $608, 3rd offense – $973.  If the matter escalates to a criminal violation, the charge would be a class 1 misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of up to $2500 fine and up to 180 days in jail."

So, what should individual Gilbert families who are trying to stay employed and rear children do? Should they be expected to "look out for themselves" by attending every meeting where issues like this are discussed, presented to the Council, and passed into law? 

Or, should those Gilbert citizens expect their elected representatives to represent them?  

Do you want a nice veneer of an orderly, clean, pretty Gilbert, hostile to family self-sufficiency?  Does that fit with the family friendly atmosphere that Gilbert has been known and celebrated for?  
With rising inflation, pay decreases, and widespread unemployment, many people are turning to urban farming as an outlet for survival.  Organic eggs from free ranging hens provides healthy food.  Backyard hens do not produce near the noise disturbance of barking dogs, and they pose significantly less health risks than cats.  Hens reduce waste by eating table scraps, produce extremely nutrient rich fertilizer, quell the pests by eating insects (including spiders and scorpions) and weeds, and keep kids entertained with their wide range of unique personalities.   

The more regulations that are imposed on Gilbert citizens, the less control those citizens have over their lives.

If I were you, I’d be careful about who you elect to "represent" you.  See how your elected representatives have been voting for bigger government, not less.  See Captain Rick’s Gilbert Council Scorecard.