Inconsistencies in an animal ordinance that has been revised several times over the past decade have prompted residents of Crooked River Ranch (CRR) to ask the Jefferson County Commission to look into the ordinance once again.
Gene Moe, a new CRR board member, told commissioners that he came to their Feb. 9 meeting not as a board member, but as a Ranch resident, to ask the commission to revisit the animal ordinance.
Moe brought signatures from about 140 Ranch residents who also agreed that it's time to take a more serious look at the ordinance.
"The ordinance has changed about four times in four years. It's pretty confusing," he said. "There are some gray areas in there that need to be cleaned up for everyone's benefit."
Some of the confusion arises from the fact that the county has countywide livestock restrictions, and more stringent restrictions for the CRR residential zone.
The countywide ordinance alÿlows one equine, such as a horse, per acre; one cow; four goats; up to 50 mature chicken, fowl, and/or rabbits; two mature pigs; eight llamas; or eight sheep.
At the Ranch, on lots up to 10 acres in size, residents may have one equine species per acre, or not more than 10 rabbits, chicken or other small fowl per acre. Cows, goats, sheep and pigs are not alÿlowed, unless a resident gets all neighbors within 100 feet of the property to sign a letter or form stating that they don't object to a special permit.
On properties of 10 or more acres, residents may choose from the first two options above, or have one cow per acre, or four goats, sheep or llamas per acre, or seven emu per acre.
Moe pointed out that only 11 of the 2,600 or so lots at CRR are over 10 acres, including his, and only three of those have animals on them. He and his wife Betty have 16 llamas and four horses on their 10 acres.
"If animals are reasonably taken care of and housed, it shouldn't be predicated on the amount of room, as long as dust, manure and flies are taken care of," Betty Moe said. "On smaller acreage, you have to be more diligent doing that."
The countywide ordinance does not mention exceptions for 4-H or FFA projects, while the Ranch ordinance allows special use perÿmits.
The Ranch ordinance specifies that a 4-H or FFA project "is being raised for the fair as a market animal to be sold through the auction at the county fair."
Betty Moe, a former CRR board member, wonders what happens if a 4-H'er doesn't sell an animal at fair. "Not all animals that kids show at fair are ones they want to be sold at fair," she pointed out. "Some are kept for breeding stock; some are kept for showing or packing. They're not market aniÿmals."
As examples, Moe said that dairy goats are kept for breeding stock, and llamas are often raised to be shown, or used as pack animals.
County Commissioner Bill Belÿlamy suggested that the commisÿsion instruct the planning departÿment to begin an expedited revision process.
Jerry Cusick of CRR, who also serves on the CRR Board of Direcÿtors, said that he feels the county's ordinances are good, but "they have some gray areas."
"Crooked River Ranch is changÿing all the time; a lot of different folks are moving in, and hundreds of people are down south," he said, referring to the residents who move south for the winter. Cusick recomÿmended that the commission wait until mid-April or early May, when the "snowbirds" return, before starting hearings on a new ordiÿnance.
"I hope you don't go too fast with this," he said.
County Counsel Jacki Haggerty told Cusick that the process would take time. "We're looking at six months before the planning comÿmission has a recommendation," she said.
Moe took issue with the suggesÿtion that the CRR Board of Direcÿtors develop its own covenants, codes and restrictions (CC&Rs) dealing with livestock.
"I feel most Crooked River Ranch people would be more comÿfortable with it being under the county's jurisdiction," she said.
Ranch resident Jim Martin, also a former board member, agreed, noting, "If a (violation) letter comes from the Crooked River Ranch Board of Directors, they look at it and throw it in the trash. If it comes from the county, they don't throw it away."
As it stands, "There are zero articles in our CC&Rs relating to animals," he said.
The County Commission voted unanimously to ask the County Community Development Departÿment to begin work on a new ordinance.
Contacted on Monday, Chris Gannon, director of the Community Development Department, said that the ordinance has been changed three times in the last 11 years. The changes go from more restrictive to less restrictive and then back again, he said, "like a pendulum that swings back and forth."
"Our goal, from the county's perspective, is a long-term, final solution," Gannon said. "I will be proposing one ordinance for the whole county, and not a different one for the Ranch."
Gannon said that if the Ranch wants more restrictive rules than those in the county's ordinance, it would be more appropriate for the Ranch to make those changes in its CC&Rs. That would mean that the Ranch would be responsible for enforcing any rules that were more restrictive than the county's.
As the county develops a new ordinance, Gannon hopes to enlist the help of the Oregon State University Range and Animal Sciÿence departments.
"The general ordinance should be based in science," he said. "We want it simple and easily understood, based on good research from OSU."