Pigeon ban in city to get another look

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A potential ban on pigeon keeping within Wilmington city limits will be brought back before city council at their next meeting.

At their meeting Tuesday night, council members initially voted to ban the keeping of homing pigeons on properties in the city, but a motion to waive the second reading failed to pass unanimously.

Councilman Charlie Rivenbark, the lone dissenter, said he wanted to give any current pigeon keepers a chance to speak out on the issue. Currently the city knows of two such individuals, who would be grandfathered in and allowed to keep their coops.

“What we have here is not just people that are keeping pigeons as pets. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard of anyone contracting avian diseases from them,” Rivenbark said. “I’d like to hold this over for two weeks to give [any other pigeon keepers we may not know of] a chance to respond.”

Councilman Kevin O’Grady pointed out any other homing pigeon owners, provided they can prove they were keeping pigeons before the ordinance came up, would have plenty of time to get registered with the city.

“If they’re existing pigeon culturists, they have six months to step forward to show that they’ve been keeping them,” O’Grady said.

An accompanying ordinance amendment specifically defined “poultry” and lowered the minimum lot size needed to keep chickens within city limits was also passed. The previous ordinance stated that any “domestic fowl” other than chickens were banned, but did not specifically state what species fell under that category. The new ordinance lists out animals such as ducks, geese, swans, peafowl and turkeys, among others.

Pigeons were separated from the “poultry” cateogry after council asked staff to write two different ordinances for them. At a meeting last October, when the issue was first brought to council, O’Grady and former Councilwoman Laura Padgett had concerns about raising pigeons in a growing urban area.

The amendment defining “poultry” and setting new regulations for chicken coops passed on both first and second reading. The amendment banning new instances of pigeon keeping will be heard again at city council’s April 19 meeting.