Why did the chicken cross the road?

To vote in Tuesday’s Belgrade election, of course.

Since 2009, various Belgrade residents have tried to bring owning chickens out of the demimonde and dark alleys of the city limits. Make it something you could tell your mom about, even mention in church.

But year after year, chicken-loving residents who approached the Belgrade City Council were shot down. Numerous times the city council chose not to legalize keeping backyard chickens; a petition drive in 2020 faltered when not enough signatures gathered were deemed legit.

In December 2020, the council agreed to put the measure on the ballot for November 2021. (In 2018, 2014, 2010 and 2009, the council said no.)

The chicken people got their say this week, and the ballot proposal passed by 52 percent to 48 percent, or 1,443 votes to 989.

Bill Siebrasse, one of the residents who, along with his wife Ashley spearheaded last year’s petition drive, told the Belgrade News “We are relieved. It’s great. We were preaching to the city council, talking to people.

“We are just happy that people got to decide their own regulations. We asked again and again.”

Mayor Russ Nelson has made no secret of his dislike of the chickens-in-town scenario.

“Go live on a farm if you want chickens,” he said recently.

And, “I guess it will go on the ballot, folks,” he said in December 2020. His unwillingness to put the chicken question in the council’s hands for a fifth time has been criticized by chicken supporters.

In an aside to that controversial ballot measure, re-elected incumbent Councilwoman Kris Menicucci, a Butte native, hastened to add that she grew up with chickens and she loves them.

And in a final aside to the “chicken controversy,” in which Nelson was very much anti-fowl, he told the Belgrade News this week, “Relating to chickens, the voters wanted them so we’ll do it. And maybe we can stop talking about it.”

He also predicted that no more than 15 city residents would acquire chickens due to the new law.

Nelson pointed out that chickens are still barred in neighborhoods with HOAs that don’t allow them, such as the Ryen Glen subdivisioin.