Tulare hen egg-scapade

FRESNO, Calif.

One family hatched this debate and is taking it before city council this week. The Miller family built a chicken coop in February. It was a family project to educate their eight children.

But after several complaints the chickens were removed and now the children are learning about local government.

Frankie Miller is a mother of five girls and three boys. All are home-schooled in Tulare. Learning takes place all over the house and in the backyard.

"This is the coop the children built with their dad," said Miller. "They know the value of hard work. And nothing's going to get done unless you work for it. And we're providing our own food with these hens as well as having wonderful pets that they were always out here playing with."

Each family member had one hen. But during the first week of August one escaped to the front yard.

A Tulare animal control officer seized it. "[It was] before we built this fence one had gotten under the fence," Miller said.

One week later one hen flew over the fence and into a neighbors yard...that neighbor called the city code enforcement office.

According to the city ordinance residents are allowed a maximum of two cats and three dogs.

"These little communities all have their own uniqueness and quirks," said Vice Mayor Phil Vandergrift. Vandergrift said under the current ordinance hampsters, snakes and even fish are not allowed in homes.

There's even an old ordinance that says you have to honk your car twice when crossing into city limits to alert all horse drawn carriages.

"So maybe we have some old codes and this could be this could a very good learning [experience] for Frankie Miller and her 8 children," Vandergrift said. Vandergrift said he is open to adjusting the ordinance.

"There is a place in Tulare for hens, for backyard hens. So I think the environmental benefits have already been discussed. I know the city is putting forth some health objections," Miller said.

Until those concerns are discussed further the Miller's hens are staying with a friend living in the county.

Miller will be asking city council to consider changing the ordinance Tuesday evening so she can get her hens back.

There is also a woman who trains hens at her home to play the piano and ring bells. She is facing a similar situation as Miller and will be there Tuesday to voice her concerns.

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