Proposed animal ordinance would allow minimum of six chickens in city

Sean C. Morgan

The City Council will likely hear a proposal this month to allow at least six chicken hens per property within the city limits. while banning roosters entirely.

The proposal, which originated with a request by resident Bruce Hobbes last spring, has been tied up in and now encompasses a rewrite of all the city’s animal ordinances.

The proposal allows up to six chickens on properties one-quarter acre or smaller. It allows up to 12 chickens on properties up to half an acre. Above half an acre, residents would be allowed to keep up to 24 chickens, which is the current limit.

Roosters are permitted on properties over half an acre now, but the proposal will ban them.

The Public Safety Committee reviewed a draft of the ordinance proposal on Aug. 23.

Public Safety Committee members Greg Mahler, Scott McKee Jr. and Ron Rodgers were unable to establish how the city would deal with roosters that are legal now. They discussed a time limit to get rid of the roosters or allowing the roosters to remain until death without replacement.

The chickens would need to be kept in coops at least 10 feet from neighbors, with a 20-foot setback for front yards.

The ordinance revisions also address miniature goats, horses and pigs, among other livestock and will legalize arachnids as pets.

City Attorney Robert Snyder was primarily concerned about allowing roosters in the city limits, he said. If it were up to him, he wouldn’t allow them in town.

With one nuisance call, a rooster was going off 60 times a minute, Snyder said, and he thought that was one animal that always needs to be in the country.

“They go on and on and on,” he said. “You don’t need roosters to make eggs or anything we’ve been talking about.”

The committee agreed, and the next draft will ban roosters.

“I’m with Mr. Snyder,” McKee said. “I don’t think we should have any roosters inside the city.”

Mahler and Rodgers would prefer no chickens allowed in the city limits, they said.

“I just don’t think personally I’d be real happy if each of my neighbors had 12 chickens on their property,” Rodgers said.

Mahler said he would prefer to see no chickens allowed on properties less than a quarter of an acre.

“I just have a problem with a lot of city lots having chickens on them,” Mahler said.

Although reluctant, they believe that the city’s going to have chickens and would go along with the proposed limitations.

“I’m inclined to try six, 12, 24,” Rodgers said.

“That’s fine,” Mahler said.

If the city receives a lot of complaints, the council could revisit the ordinance, Rodgers said.

The main issue the city will have with chickens is when people let them loose, said Community Development Director Carol Lewis. That’s when the city receives calls about chickens, but it’s not chickens that generate the most calls.

“It’s usually dogs,” Lewis said. “Right now, it’s not chickens.”

Barking dogs are regulated by the state and enforced by the county animal control service, she said. Generally, dogs are excepted from the city’s animal ordinances right now. In the proposal, the exception will be removed, which means the city can respond to dog complaints and send letters to owners generating complaints.

The committee also discussed a request for help in educating the public about the effects of illegal fireworks on veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder, and the committee would like to consult Sweet Home Police Department Community Services Officer Gina Riley on the topic.