Cock-a-doodle-brouhaha

 

COLORADO

Don't even think of toting roosters along if you're moving to Ridgway in western Colorado. The birds are unwanted, and not just because they tend to cock-a-doodle-doo at the crack of dawn. They've become the symbol of a town that's no longer rural, relaxed and live and let-live. For proof, just ask resident Janet Smith about the influx of the upscale class. Smith used to keep roosters on her place in the heart of town, but then some neighbors complained, reports The Ridgway Sun. That led the council to ban roosters and take Smith, who goes by the moniker "Planet," to court for breaking the new law.  Smith fought back, resulting in a lengthy trial that ended up costing the town $11,000. She lost the case but after she threatened to appeal, the town dropped the charges -- though the rooster prohibition remained in effect. All of this brouhaha thoroughly annoyed fellow resident John Billings, who found the rooster law unfair because it was enacted to target one person and ignored the town's "right-to-farm" heritage. Just to make his opinion crystal-clear to everyone -- including folks driving to nearby Ouray -- Billings put up a 4-foot-by-8-foot billboard on his property facing State Highway 550. It features drawings of two roosters crowing through megaphones about Ridgway: "What we lack in wineries, we make up for in whiners." Miffed, one town council member asked his fellow representatives what could be done to remove the sign; he was told there was the matter of "free speech" to contend with. As for Billings, he said, "I don't really care what they think about me or what they think about the sign."

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