Stapleton HOA moves to ban farm animals

Despite city-wide ordinance, board disagrees

DENVER - It's touted as a green, environmentally-friendly community. But now, chickens, ducks, rabbits and goats must go.

That's the ruling from the Stapleton Neighborhood No. 7 Homeowner's Association board. The board voted to ban all "farm animals" at a meeting in October.

A ruling that has some families crying foul. The Viewrow's, for one, might as well be the poster family for sustainable living.

"My husband and I are really devoted to sustainable living," said Caroline Batorowicz-Vierow. "Our chickens produce the most amazing eggs. They taste incredible."

The Vierow's have two chickens, a garden full of fresh produce in the summer and a rabbit the size of a dog.

"We have the rabbit as a pet, but also - his pellets are like black gold to gardeners," said Vierow.

The Denver city council passed a food-producing animals ordinance in 2011 that allows each family up to eight chickens or ducks or any combination of the two, as well as two goats.

"We're contributing to the environment. We're not taking away from it," said Vierow. "Our carbon footprint is minimal."

Despite Denver's city ordinance, the Viewrow's small HOA within Stapleton, a 118 home subsection called Stapleton Neighborhood No. 7 has banned food-producing animals by a 4-1 vote of the board.

"I have not seen any proof of them taking a poll," said Vierow.

7NEWS tried contacting board president Jerry Dowdy but did not hear back.

7NEWS checked with an HOA attorney, and HOA's often have more restrictive declarations than city codes, especially if homes are in close proximity and neighbors share common outdoor space like they do in Stapleton Neighborhood No. 7. According to legal experts, the law states a person or family is allowed to do whatever they want in their own homes, within reason.

But, there have been cases, most notably centered around smoking in condo and apartment complexes, where HOA's have taken action to ban people from smoking in their homes because the smoke is impacting those living in neighboring units or homes.

The Viewrow's maintain their animals are not a nuisance. They keep their two chickens and rabbit in their garage year-round. "They are very well-behaved," she said.

And in Stapleton -- where there's even a 65-page sustainability handbook, known as the 'Green Book' -- it leaves the Viewrow's pointing to a glaring contradiction.

"They're being very closed-minded about the whole thing. Just (saying), 'No - we don't want it. We don't care to learn more about it,'" said Vierow.

The board voted on Oct. 14, but the issue comes before the board again Tuesday night, Nov. 5, for public comment. The meeting takes place at the Central Park Rec Center in Stapleton at 7 p.m.