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Cock-a-doodle-don't? Mount Angel questions its ban on chickens

by: LINDSAY KEEFER - Chickens are currently banned within Mount Angels city limits, but new city manager Eileen Stein wants to take another look at the ordinance. Don’t start counting those eggs yet, but the city of Mount Angel is considering a reverse on its current chicken ban within city limits.

Still in the discussion phase, the proposed ordinance could continue the city’s current ordinance banning chickens, regulate them or allow them to freely roam with no limits at all.

It would be a veritable chicken dance in Mount Angel.

Some religious members of the community are granted exceptions to the city’s existing ban on poultry and livestock and council members wanted to explore opening up the option to raise chickens to the entire community, according to Eileen Stein, new city administrator.

At the request of the city council, Stein researched the issue and found many other cities in the state, including Hillsboro and Independence, have adopted poultry-related ordinances.

“I found that in more urban communities, there is likely to have a permit required,” she said. “In the more rural, agricultural communities, there is likely to be less regulation.”

Mount Angel’s current city code does not allow for livestock or poultry of any kind including roosters, chickens or pigeons, except for religious reasons, according to the city.

There are people with chickens in the city, however, but the city has not had to enforce any complaints, said Mayor Andrew Otte.

“If we went down the ordinance road, we would like to consider all the variables,” Otte said.

Among those would be whether to expand the ordinance to include other animals such as roosters, bees and pigeons, how many chickens would be allowed on different lot sizes and the conditions of their captivity.

“I don’t want to walk down the street and have chickens pecking at my toes,” Otte said. “We have to have tight controls.”

The poultry question has ruffled some features in the city’s past. In 2007, a Mount Angel man, Mitchell Reed, pleaded guilty to violating the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act after he attempted to trap, capture and kill a hawk to protect his roller pigeons.

An ordinance could be as simple as issuing a permit, but other variables include how many chickens are allowed on different sized properties.

“I don’t think you should be able to have more than 12 because that’s a lot,” said Kelly Grassman, city councilor.

Councilor Darren Beyer said he grew up on a farm outside of Silverton and moved to a more urban area for a reason.

“I’m at the point where I don’t want chickens on my neighbors’ front porch,” he said.

The council will look for more public discussion on the issue at a public workshop scheduled for Monday, Oct. 21. The time and agenda for the meeting is still undetermined.