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Wood Village delays vote on chickens

The Wood Village City Council on Tuesday, Sept. 13, delayed a vote on a proposed ordinance that would allow certain residents to keep backyard chickens, requesting additional changes.

The ordinance would allow residents of single-family homes to keep up to three domestic chickens in their backyard. The ordinance sets minimum sizes for chicken coops and the distances the coops and run have to be located from other residences and the property line; it also requires the coops and run to be fully enclosed and secure.

City councilors decided to send the ordinance back to city staff to make a few changes: Chicken ownership would be limited to homes in the residential neighborhood south of Halsey Street and between 238th Drive and Donald L. Robertson City Park; and those residents who want to keep chickens would have to apply for a permit and pay a one-time fee.

The council plans to review and vote on the ordinance with the revisions at its next meeting Tuesday, Sept. 27.

If the council approves the ordinance, Wood Village would join Gresham and Portland as the third Multnomah County city that allows residents to keep backyard chickens.

Wood Village currently prohibits ownership of domestic poultry under its nuisance code, but city officials said local interest on the issue perked up after Gresham enacted updated chicken codes in February 2010.

Wood Village has studied the issue since May, reviewing both Portland and Gresham's chicken codes for comparison.

The Wood Village Planning Commission, however, did not express much support for a chicken code at a June meeting. Members cited potential issues with odor and noise, the possibility that chickens would attract unwanted wildlife into yards and because Wood Village is not a farming community.

Records Manager and HR Specialist Greg Dirks said the city has received about eight to 10 letters, calls and emails from residents on the issue, with opinion being split down the middle. At the council meeting, three people testified in favor and one person testified against the ordinance, he said.