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Make way for chickens?

Tualatin continues discussion on backyard fowl

by: TIMES FILE PHOTO - Tualatin does not currently allow residents to keep chickens in most residential zones, but that could change.Will Tualatin become a more chicken-friendly town?

Monday’s City Council meeting hosted an unofficial public hearing of sorts on whether to go the way of surrounding cities, the majority of which currently allow for backyard chicken-keeping. Although the council had decided during its work session to send the ordinance back to city staff for revision, members of the public were frustrated there was no official public comment scheduled on the topic. The council agreed to hear feedback from about 15 residents, who represented both sides of the argument.

“The issue is not trying to make an obstacle to disallow chickens, but to create an ordinance we can properly enforce so that we don’t have any negative impact to surrounding neighbors,” Mayor Lou Ogden said of an ordinance proposed in 2010 that is currently under review.

When the council addressed the issue by public request last December, Ogden said the council would prefer the city’s Citizen Involvement Organizations gather public input at the neighborhood level. During its work session earlier in the evening, the council had reviewed feedback on the proposed ordinance and in response, asked staff to revise a draft based on public feedback.

Read the proposed resolutions and citizen comments here.

The proposed ordinance for Tualatin would allow those residing on single-family residential lots of 5,000 square feet or more to have up to four chickens aged four months and older on the premises. According to this draft, residents would have the option of adding one adult bird beyond that for every additional 2,000 square feet of property, not to exceed a total of six adult birds.

The ordinance would not permit roosters in areas zoned as residential.

There would be no permit or fees required to keep chickens, which the council is reconsidering.

The draft specifies that such an ordinance would be enforced on a complaint basis, and that complaints would need to be submitted in writing.

Residents who want to keep chickens in their backyards would be required to provide a secure enclosure — specified as a fenced pen, coop or similar structure that provides 2- -square-feet per chicken — in the backyard.

Asked to collect input on the proposal, several CIOs conducted their own surveys to gage public support for the idea. The CIOs serving the Riverpark, Ibach, Martinazzi Woods and Midwest neighborhoods found the majority of their members were in favor of an ordinance that would allow the keeping of chickens on residential lots. The East Tualatin CIO found the majority of its members felt the minimum lot size was too small, but might be supportive of an ordinance presented with some changes.

Tigard, Beaverton, Forest Grove, Lake Oswego and Sherwood each allow urban chicken-keeping, with Beaverton extending the ordinance to include ducks and Forest Grove allowing ducks, quail and pheasants. Sherwood, Tigard and Lake Oswego boast the most permissive guidelines, allowing residents in some cases to keep other categories of livestock.

According to City Manager Sherilyn Lombos, the city will present a timeline for revisions to the ordinance during the next City Council work session on June 10.

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