Urban Chickens

City ordinance allows the keeping of chickens under certain conditions. You can download an application on our Permits page.

Chapter 55, section 23 Livestock
It is unlawful for a person to keep livestock within the City, except in compliance with the City’s zoning regulations.

    1. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, the keeping of domestic chickens (members of the subspecies of Gallus gallus domesticus) shall be permitted on single-family residences and zero-lot line duplexes (where each unit owner owns a separate and distinct portion of the lot), so long as such keeping is in strict compliance with this subsection and all other applicable City ordinances unless, despite compliance with the following, the presence of any particular chickens endangers the health, safety, peace, quiet, comfort, enjoyment of, or otherwise becomes a public nuisance to nearby residents or occupants or places of business.
      1. No person shall keep chickens inside a single family dwelling unit, multi-family dwelling units or rental units.
      2. A tenant must obtain the landlord’s written permission to keep chickens, which shall be submitted as part of the application for a permit.
      3. Chickens must be confined in a coop or fowl house not less than 18 inches in height or, in the alternative, within a fenced pen area. Chickens must be kept within the coop, the fowl house, or the fenced pen area at all times unless removed for a temporary time for cleaning or for the safety of the chicken. Chickens must be housed in the coop from dusk until dawn.
      4. The coop, the fowl house, or the fenced pen area shall be located in the rear yard (as defined in Section 167.01) only, must be of such a design to be reasonably expected to prevent entry by dogs, cats, or other animals, shall be completely enclosed (except fenced pen area), shall be well maintained, and shall be well drained so there is no accumulation of moisture.
      5. The materials used in making a coop or fowl house (stationary or mobile) shall be uniform for each element of the structure such that the walls are made of the same material, the roof has the same shingles or other covering, and any windows or openings are constructed using the same materials. The use of scrap, waste board, sheet metal, or similar materials is prohibited. Fencing materials must meet all requirements set forth in the zoning regulations; however, except as set forth herein, coops and fowl houses are not subject to building code requirements.
      6. The coop, the fowl house, or the fenced pen area shall have a minimum of four (4) square feet of floor area for each chicken but shall not be any larger than twelve (12) square feet of area for each chicken. The coop, fowl house, or fenced pen area shall be a minimum of fifteen (15) feet from any property line, shall not exceed eight (8) feet in height, and shall fully comply with all applicable zoning regulations.
      7. Any coop, fowl house, or fenced pen area shall be kept clean, sanitary and free from accumulation of chicken excrement and objectionable odors. All droppings and body excretions shall be either placed in fly-proof containers and double-bagged in plastic bags or, in the alternative, used as fertilizer on the same property or, with the owner’s permission, on other property within the City, so long as the droppings and body excretions are spread and incorporated into the soil within twenty four (24) hours.
      8. Odors from chickens, chicken manure or other chicken related substances shall not be perceptible beyond the boundaries of the permitted tract of land. Noise from chickens shall not to disturb persons on adjoining properties or beyond based on an objective or reasonable person standard.
      9. All chicken feed shall be stored in rodent-proof containers.
      10. No more than six (6) chickens shall be kept or maintained per property.
      11. All chickens shall have wings clipped at any given time so as to eliminate the possibility of flight from the permittee’s property.
      12. All such chickens must be hens; no roosters are permitted.
      13. All chickens covered by a permit shall be banded in accordance with procedures and requirements established by the City.
      14. The City shall not be liable for injury or death of chickens caused by dogs, cats, or other animals, domestic or wild, whether such animals are licensed by the City or not. Further, injury or death of a chicken caused by an animal is not, in and of itself, sufficient grounds for the City to determine that the animal is a vicious animal pursuant to Chapter 56 of this Code of Ordinances. Any dead chicken, not caused by slaughtering, shall be disposed of immediately upon discovering in a manner so as not to cause a nuisance pursuant to Chapter 50 of this Code of Ordinances.
      15. Any slaughter of chickens not regulated by state law or otherwise forbidden or regulated shall be done only in a humane and sanitary manner and shall not be done open to the view of any public area or adjacent property owned by another.
    2. No person shall keep any chickens unless they possess a City of North Liberty permit issued by the City Clerk.
      1. The City Clerk shall provide an application form upon request, which shall include consent forms for landlords and owners of adjacent properties.
      2. The fees and associated costs shall be set by resolution.
      3. Permits will be granted for one (1) year valid from January 1 through December 31. Permits may be purchased at any time during the year but will be valid only through December 31. Bands will be issued with the permit. The permittee shall place and keep leg bands on all of his chickens showing the permit number.
      4. The applicant shall successfully complete an approved class in raising chickens in an urban setting prior to being issued a permit. The Permitting Officer shall maintain a current list of such approved classes.
      5. Each chicken shall be banded at all times.
      6. By the granting of the permit to raise chickens and the application thereof, the permittee authorizes that the City or its agents have the right to go onto permittee’s property any time and without prior notice for the limited purpose of inspection of the premises to ensure that all applicable conditions have been met.
      7. Within thirty (30) days after the expiration of any permit, the permittee shall apply for and secure a renewal of the permit in the manner provided for in this chapter. Failure to renew a permit within the time herein provided shall result in a delinquent fee, in addition to the regular permit fee, as set by the city council. All applicants shall be furnished with permit rules and regulations at the time the application is made. Permit rules and regulations shall be approved by resolution of the city council.
      8. The permit is a limited license for the activity, and no vested zoning rights arise from the permit being issued.
      9. The permit does not run with the land. Private restrictions on the use of the property shall remain enforceable and shall supersede the permit. The private restrictions include, but are not limited to, deed restrictions, condominium restrictions, neighborhood association bylaws, covenants and restrictions, and rental agreements. A permit issued to a person whose property is subject to private restrictions that prohibit keeping of chickens is void.
    3. In the event that an applicant or permittee does not fully and strictly comply with the requirements of this section, the application may be denied or the permit may be revoked. If an application is denied or a permit is revoked, the applicant or permittee shall be so informed in writing and also informed of the right to appeal said decision.
      1. In any instance where the City Clerk has denied, revoked, suspended, or not renewed a permit, the applicant or permit holder may appeal the Clerk’s decision to the City Administrator within ten (10) business days of receipt by the applicant or holder of the permit of the notice of the decision. The applicant or holder of the permit will be given an opportunity for a hearing. The decision of the City Administrator or any decision by the Clerk that is not appealed in accordance to this chapter shall be deemed final action.
      2. When an application for a permit is denied or when a permit is revoked:
        1. The applicant may not re-apply for a new permit for a period of 1 year from the date of the denial or revocation unless the denial or revocation is due to administrative reasons only, as determined by the City Clerk.
        2. Any chickens shall be removed immediately.
        3. Any coop, fowl house, fencing or other structures shall be removed within ten (10) days of the date of the permit being denied or revoked.
      3. An owner or possessor of animals on property that is newly annexed has ninety (90) days from the date of annexation to bring the property into compliance required by this section.
      4. Any property owner possessing chickens in violation of the City’s Animal Code prior to the date this ordinance becomes effective, which is an illegal nonconforming use, shall have thirty (30) days to meet all requirements of this section and all other applicable provisions of the City’s code of Ordinances.
      5. A violation of this subsection is a simple misdemeanor or a municipal infraction, as provided in Chapter 3 of this Code of Ordinances.