Tualatin considers chicken-keeping in residential areas

by: FILE PHOTO - Tualatin City Council is considering whether or not to allow people to keep chickens within the city limits.Will Portland’s do-it-yourself, homespun style influence Tualatin? A recent public request means the Tualatin City Council will spend much of its work session on Monday talking about chickens — namely, whether there is enough interest in an ordinance that would allow those living within Tualatin to keep chickens in residential areas.

The council would also discuss how to solicit public input on the issue.

The city of Portland’s ordinance regarding “urban chicken-keeping” allows residents to keep up to three chickens in their yards. Owning more than three chickens requires a special permit, and roosters are prohibited.

The “urban chicken coop movement” as it is sometimes called has seen a recent resurgence in popularity, specifically in Portland, where many nurseries sell chicks and offer classes on proper chicken care. For city-dwellers, chickens serve a kind of dual role: They are both family pets and an important component in sustainable living, producing both eggs and fertilizer.

According to Mayor Lou Ogden, the council has addressed this issue before, specifically as nearby cities, like Beaverton, adopted their own such ordinances.

“We actually referred this to our Planning Commission maybe a year ago,” Ogden said by email.

The council decided to revisit the issue after its Nov. 26 meeting, at the request of a resident.

“He also asked for a moratorium on enforcing our ban on farm animals in the city until the chicken question could be resolved,” Ogden said.

The council declined to put a moratorium on the ban, but members agreed to revisit urban chicken-keeping at the next work session.

Ultimately, Ogden said, the council would prefer that local Citizen Involvement Organizations discuss the idea in their own neighborhoods and in that way, allow the council to better gauge community opinion.

“This is the kind of thing the CIOs are going to be good at ferreting out the community stance on,” Councilor Joelle Davis agreed, “to decide if this is something they want in their own backyards, or in their neighbors’ backyards.”

Councilor Monique Beikman said she put the question to Tualatin residents herself by posting it to her Facebook page.

“(Citizens’) opinions are about half and half,” Beikman said.

“My thinking hasn’t changed on this,” Ogden said. “I would like to see the question vetted community-wide, and I think the CIOs are the best mechanism, or at least one of the mechanisms to be used before we have a hearing on the issue.

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