ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” story. It is an editorial by the editor.
Wayland City Councilman Rick Mathis was correct Monday night in his assessment of adopting a local ordinance permitting residents to have chickens.
Mathis insisted that the city will need to hire an ordinance enforcement officer if the regulations being discussed are approved. As the saying goes, “The devil is in the details.”
If city officials continue to insist that sales of eggs be prohibited by local urban farming enthusiasts, new headaches and added costs to govern will be the result. The potential for unintended consequences will be great.
To be sure, having a lot of roadside “eggs for sale” signs, like the ones so prominent in nearby rural areas, are not desirable, but enforcing a local law and penalizing citizens who customarily are law abiding could wreak havoc on city government. The costs are very likely to outweigh the advantages. And fair and consistent enforcement of such a ban will be very difficult.
Sales of local farm fresh eggs now are permitted twice a week between June and November at the local Farmers Market, a service sponsored and endorsed by the City of Wayland and many other municipalities. City officials need to do some critical thinking about the source of these eggs if the ordinance is adopted. Then they need to think hard about whether they really want such a ban to go into effect as part of the new ordinance.
Even without a chicken ordinance being adopted yet in the city, there are many residents who live in nearby townships and keep chickens. Some of them occasionally have more eggs than they can eat, and rather than waste food, they offer the leftovers to friends at work or to neighbors. And recipients often want to feel neighborly by monetarily rewarding those who offer the eggs.
It’s an all too common scene these days. My family lives in Leighton Township, only two blocks away from the city limits, and we often buy farm fresh eggs because very frankly they are superior in taste to the “store-bought” variety.
And if you believe we must protect the local grocery store from competition, consider that Farmers Markets compete with them for sales of vegetables and other “good things from the garden.” We’ve been blessed with a terrific harvest of tomatoes this year and have eaten them every day for the last couple of months and canned others. It’s been quite a spell since we’ve had to endure “store-bought.”
The same probably will be true for eggs. Anybody in the know is aware that free-range local chickens produce better tasting eggs than the kind we settle for in the store. So we often will be in the hunt for local eggs. So should those who are willing to sell be at risk for legal penalties? I believe it not.
Prohibiting the barter or sale of eggs will be about as successful as alcohol Prohibition was in this country nearly a century ago, about as successful as the 46-year-old failed war on marijuana.
Therefore, I urge acting City Manager Larry Nielsen and the City Council resolutely to drop any prohibition of buying or selling eggs from chickens raised locally. The city doesn’t need more problems.