Thanks for your clear response. I certainly now understand your point of view.
In my own eyes there's a difference between moving to a residential area and moving to one that has a homeowners' or residential association. When I lived in Elizabeth City, I lived within the city limits. In that city, which is just as urban as Chesapeake in certain sections, hens are considered neither pets nor livestock but poultry.
Although livestock is not permitted in the city, poultry is. Residents can keep up to three hens (no roosters) with restrictions regarding noise, odor, and keeping the hens out of roads and on one's own property. I volunteered with the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals there, and very rarely did Animal Control need to bring in chickens. They are not much of a problem. But since my home used to be in a location with a homeowners' association, and this association prohibited chickens, I followed the bylaws.
If homeowners have such deeply held convictions about not having hens near their residences, these residents can live in areas with such restrictions. It's a free country, and the proposed zoning law will not remove residential associations and their restrictions. But the rest of us should be able to feed ourselves, fertilize our gardens, improve our soil, improve our health, fight pollution, and prepare for disasters or other local emergencies as we see fit, assuming we are not impinging on our neighbors. With hens we can do all these things to improve our community. And our proposed ordinance will give the (sic) Chesapeake a law with teeth that can address any rare instances where residential chickens present a nuisance due to owners' negligence.
In our view, there is "a clear and overarching public need or interest" that our proposed ordinance will address. Society's needs and expectations change over time, as this 1918 advertisement by the U.S. Government proves. Research shows that we now live in a world with drastic climate change, the threat of bio-terrorism, increased population density, increased pollution, health and nutritional challenges, and imminent peak oil. Hens and local foods are an important part of the solution. This is certainly the view of Patricia Foreman, a Cornell-educated (sic) author and lecturer who plans to appear in Chesapeake sometime in the coming months. The City of Chesapeake, led by intelligent and well-informed City Council Members such as yourself, should therefore take a proactive stance by supporting the urban agriculture movement in general and our proposed ordinance in particular.
I fear I am belaboring the issue. If you follow up on my assertions, you will find selected readings and research available on Google Docs through this link. After researching these issues for yourself, if you still disagree, we will simply have to agree to disagree.
Update on 8/20/12: I doubled-checked the "About the Author" information in City Chicks, and Pat was educated at Purdue in Indiana. Ow! My apologies, Pat!
Update: On November 20, Chesapeake City Council voted 6-3 to allow hens with certain restriction in residential areas. De Triquet was one of the three Council members who voted against the ordinance. The others were Council Members West and Ritter.