Longview land owner has chickens taken away over health concerns

A Longview land owner has his feathers ruffled after city health workers remove over 100 chickens from his property.

KLTV 7's Bob Hallmark has more on how one family has raised livestock within the city limits for decades, but city officials now say it has become a health hazard.

It's on 5 acres off Lambert Street that the Lilly family raises their livestock, including chickens.

"I raised peas and corn and watermelon out here until I got too old to get out on my tractor," says Elzie Lilly, Jr.

Now, complaints about free roaming chickens and poor living conditions have brought in authorities. Neighbors we spoke with say the free ranging chickens have been a longtime nuisance.

"We had probably 200 chickens on the grounds there...Numerous birds were found in individual cages dead, and in various stages of decomposition," said Buck Farrar of the Longview Health Department.

"Something came in a killed about 4 or 5 chickens in each different pen," said Elzie Lilly III, who raises the chickens.

Llilly is not in violation of any city ordinances. His family has owned the land since before it was annexed into Longview and has grandfather rights. What's being contested is how he's keeping the chickens.

Workers found birds in dirty cramped cages. Over 100 birds were confiscated and taken to a holding facility.

"They did notice the excessive amount of birds out there," said Farrar.

But the Lillys believe the city is wrong and they're losing the money they would make selling eggs and chickens.

"I take care of them...it's hurting me," said Elzie Lilly III.

"He could have the chickens, he just couldn't have them in the condition and state that he was out there," said Farrar.

A hearing tomorrow will determine which side will be crowing.

Until a decision is made in that hearing tomorrow, the seized birds are being cared for by the Humane Society of Northeast Texas.

Bob Hallmark, reporting. bhallmark@kltv.com