The movement to bring yard-fresh eggs to Nashville was successful.
The Metro Council gave its approval to the so-called chicken bill, allowing up to six hens in urban residences provided certain guidelines are met.
The chicken movement will not be a countywide revolution, however. Eight councilmanic districts opted out of the bill: six in the southwest — generously, it would be described as Greater Antioch, plus Donelson in the east and The Nations west of downtown.
Permitting poultry is a bold step, but opting out of legislation is an even larger legislative leap. Never before, according to council attorney and procedural guru Jon Cooper, has the city sliced up the legislative pie thus, with a law in effect in certain districts but not others.
The state does this all the time. Counties can be exempted from state law, but in a constitutional quirk, they can’t be named by name, leading to such ponderous legislative language as “this section shall not apply in any county having a population of not less than 28,350 nor more than 28,450, according to the 2000 federal census or any subsequent federal census.”
Wouldn’t it be easier to say “Rhea County”?
And knowing your county is one thing, but how many know the district number? Unlike counties, councilmanic districts squeeze and stretch every decade.
Picture this: It’s 2022 and the demographic explosion in Antioch has continued for a decade, thus more districts need to be pushed into the area. Existing districts are scaled down. Maybe the districts are renumbered. What’s to keep, say, District 24 from becoming an Antioch district in 10 years time? Then what? Part of Antioch has chickens — a broodish exclave of Nashville’s Free Bird Zone in the middle of a heretofore hen-free area?
All geographic distinctions — even national boundaries — are manmade constructs, of course. But when something so permanent as legislation is involved, isn’t it better to use a less transitory measure than council districts, the frontiers of which follow the vagaries of population shifts?
And where does it end? First chickens, but then what? What if Joelton wants to opt out of the leash law? What if a future anti-fun zealot wants to ban pinball machines from Sylvan Park?
Now that the council can pinpoint the applicability of laws down to neighborhoods, instead of one Metro government, Davidson County runs the risk of being a loose confederation of 35 baronies.