color rooster
This beautiful rooster, seen at the animal barn at the fair, is not the one that started all the squawking in Stuart. However, he and all the other livestock on display at the fair last week were technically in violation of the town's animal ordinance, since Rotary Field is within the town limits. (Photo by Linda Hylton)
Rooster issue tabled
By Nancy Lindsey
The Stuart Town Council voted Sept. 17 to table the rooster issue for two months and take another look at the proposed ordinance which would ban poultry that "crows and squawks" within the town limits.
Two Chestnut Ave. residents who raise chickens in their back yard were the only speakers at a public hearing on the ordinance, and they said their neighbors do not object to morning wake-up calls from their single rooster.
Sam Taylor, a retired veteran of the military Special Forces and law enforcement, said he and his wife moved to Stuart in 2000. They restored an old house, Taylor said, and he cleared the lot, built fencing and an outbuilding, and installed a chicken house with chickens and one rooster.
"For almost 15 years I have enjoyed the fruits of my labor and the tranquillity and freedom of my property," Taylor said. "Life was indeed good--until now.
"This is what I despise about government at any level: the catering to the few at the expense of the many," Taylor said. "This proposal falls into that category. It is like, 'oh goody, we have a complaint. Let's not waste an opportunity to throw an ordinance at it.' In doing so, however, it is an infringement on the property rights of everyone in Stuart."
Taylor said these are hard economic times and the town's proposal would be "a hardship on a family just trying to survive..."
"This rooster menace could have been handled in a number of other ways," Taylor said. "As I understand it, 50% of the so-called problem has already been solved...that leaves my rooster in the entire town of Stuart that you hardly know exists."
Taylor told the council members they have "embarrassed your office with this frivolous proposal."
Joanne Lynch, Taylor's granddaughter, said she lives with her grandparents and is around the chickens "24/7."
She said her grandfather inquired about restrictions regarding poultry, "and finding there were none built the chicken coop, fencing, and got the chickens," which have an acre lot to roam.
Lynch said the family has had the chickens for about four years and has had no problems. Now the complaints about someone else's rooster have created a problem for her family's chickens and roosters, she said.
"This ordinance is unnecessary," Lynch said. "In school I learned about freedoms and rights, such as freedom of press, speech, assembly, the right to bear arms...We have property rights and the right to enjoy property, which is this case is the rooster.
"And by the way, our rooster doesn't even cock-a-doodle-doos (translation: get out of bed!)"
Lynch said other noises are caused by dogs, sirens, vehicles, birds and people. "So why don't you get ride of dogs, ban vehicles, fire alarms, bells and whistles, kill the birds and keep everyone's mouth shut?"
Since the mid-town rooster that originally caused the ruckus has disappeared, the town council members appeared to be reconsidering their intention to ban all roosters and other noisy fowl.
"If the other rooster is gone, can't we just drop it?" asked council member Terry Dalton.
Mayor Ray Weiland said the town has been lenient about the already-existing ordinance and shouldn't continue to "look the other way."
People pay extra taxes and fees to live in town and shouldn't have to put up with other people's "nuisances," he said.
Vice Mayor Dean Goad suggested the council "table it and look at it if it becomes a problem again."
Council member Mac Deekens made the motion to table the ordinance for two months. The motion was seconded by Dalton and passed unanimously.