Public Safety committee agrees in principle to allow chickens in city

Public Safety Committee members agreed in principle that chickens should be allowed in town, but did not hammer out specifics in their meeting Tuesday, May 10.

Members indicated they were agreeable to allowing chickens, but no roosters, inside Sweet Home.

City Councilman Scott McKee Jr. said he likes the idea of allowing roosters inside city limits, as long as the roosters are six months or younger.

“Roosters taste better for eating purposes than hens,” he said, adding that roosters tend to be more tender than hens.

Other committee members were less enthusiastic about roosters, especially the noise factor. McKee said roosters do not crow until they are 6 months old, eliminating the noise problem.

Committee members asked staff for more research into the rooster issue before their next meeting, on June 14.

Although no final decision has been made, the commission agreed in principle that chickens should be allowed in city limits on lots less than a half-acre in size, which is the current minimum allowed.

Chickens will most likely be limited to six to eight. Having any more would require an owner to get a permit from the city.

Portland currently has the same process, but allows only three chickens without a permit.

Requirements for having chickens could include a shelter that has specific feeding and watering systems, fencing, sanitation and maintenance.

One issue is how far away the coop must be kept away from neighbors. Under current ordinance, the coop would have to be kept 15 feet away from fences.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” said McKee. “No one should have the right to tell me where I can put my chickens.”

Rodgers said he didn’t think a coop should be allowed in a front yard because of appearance and how that reflects on the city.

In the avenues, he said, having a coop in a front yard could lower neighboring property values.

McKee still didn’t agree.

“We’re addressing the whole community,” he said.

“You have to strike a balance,” City Manager Craig Martin said.

Committee members agreed that public opinion is needed and a survey is in the works on the city’s web site.

Committee members also decided tarantulas should be allowed as pets in Sweet Home, but drew the line on other spiders and bees.

Present at the meeting were Martin, McKee, Greg Mahler, Ron Rodgers and City Attorney Robert Snyder.