RIDGELEY, W.Va. – A young Ridgeley girl left Tuesday’s council meeting broken hearted as the mayor and council upheld the town ordinance prohibiting chickens.
Emilee Ryan pleaded with the council on behalf of her six-month-old chicken “Nugget,” who she held in her arms during the meeting.
“The town is trying to take them away from me. It hurts that the town is trying to take away my pets,” she said. “I want to love them. They’re my babies. I don’t want to see anything happen to them.
“We clean up after our chickens. I gave one a bath the other day,” she said, noting that they are getting rid of the roosters so that they won’t make noise.
Ryan said she originally had 20 chickens but that number has dwindled as some of her friends have taken them home as pets. The number of roosters has also been reduced from six to two.
When asked by the council where she got the chickens, Ryan said that she bought the first one.
“They are my pets and I love them,” she said, clutching her beloved chicken.
“Your mother shouldn’t have let you get this,” said Councilman Mark Jones, referring to former council member Tanya Ryan.
Jones voiced his opinion that the town has the ordinance and should not issue a variance as requested by Ryan.
Jones frequently walks in town and said he noticed an odor when walking by the Ryan property.
Originally, the 20 chickens were in an 8X8 fenced area, but since that time the numbers have declined and they were relocated on the hill behind the house on over an acre of ground.
“They’re maintained in the wooded area and in our yard,” explained Tanya Ryan, noting that they are no longer allowed free range.
“This will just balloon and escalate,” Jones said, adding, “You could make anything a pet.”
Councilman Don McFarland was firm, “It’s an ordinance and we’ve got to abide by it.”
Councilman Chris Detrick abstained from the voting. Councilman Gene Rowe made a motion to accept Ryan’s request for a variance, but the motion died due to the lack of a second.
Jones then made the motion to deny the request seconded by McFarland. The motion passed.
“I feel for you Emilee,” said mayor Lynn Carr, adding that everyone who has a pet understands.