A lawsuit against seven pet hen owners in Eldorado will go to trial on May 5 if the district judge doesn't make an out-of-court ruling before then.
The suit, filed more than a year ago on behalf of the Eldorado Community Improvement Association, alleges that the chicken owners are violating an ECIA covenant that states: "No animals, birds, or poultry shall be kept or maintained on any lot, except recognized household pets."
But the seven defendants contend that the words "recognized household pets" can include chickens. They point to a growing craze in adopting chickens as pets and the fact that pet stores now sell items like chicken coops.
"A lot of this comes down to the construction of the language in the covenant," Ron VanAmberg, an attorney representing the seven chicken owners, tells SFR. "It doesn't allow people to stop them from having chickens."
The chicken controversy has divided Eldorado residents apart for three years, spawning two groups against each other in what defendant Gershon Siegel dubs the "Funky Chicken Fuster Cluck." In a nutshell, those opposed to chickens as pets are worried that their property values will go down because of them. Those in favor argue that chickens are not causing a nuisance to their neighbors. For a much more in-depth telling of the controversy, read SFR's January 2013 cover story.
Siegel and others are currently promoting a fundraiser for the defendants if the case goes to trial in May. If it doesn't, he says they'll still likely have legal bills to pay.
"We've burned through $20,000 in the first part of this thing," he says.
The website for the fundraiser includes a three-minute video featuring three defendants—residents Susan Billings, Devi Borton and David Borton—and a song sung by a "familiar voice," as Siegel puts it.
Siegel and another defendant, Greg Colello, are also running unopposed for two slots in the seven-member ECIA board of directors. That's something that Claudia Daigle, Eldorado's leading anti-chicken activist, raises issues about in her blog.
"There is obviously a very serious 'conflict of interest' here," she writes. "I have been told by our Board President, Dag Ryan, that these two members will not be able to sit in on discussions, discuss, vote, or be privy to any information having to do with our ECIA litigation."
Siegel, however, says he believes that it's too late for the board to stop the lawsuit.
View the fundraiser video below:
Featured image: "Dances with Chickens" by Elizabeth Hahn.