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Chickens in city limits?

Planning commission evaluating city’s livestock and poultry code

The current Sunnyside Municipal Code prohibits residents within the city limits from raising poultry on their property.

However, a few residents have raised the question as to whether or not that code can be changed, according to City Planner Jamey Ayling.

Last night he told the Sunnyside Planning Commission a council member requested a review of the ordinance that prohibits livestock and poultry on property within the city limits.

The only exceptions allowed in the ordinance are properties that are zoned urban agricultural.

Ayling said there are residents whose children are involved in 4-H and FFA who may wish to raise chickens for their projects.

He said other residents are interested in raising chickens for other purposes. Noting the annual Chick Days sponsored by Bleyhl and Del’s in Sunnyside, he said residents become interested in raising chickens.

“The suggestion was sent from city council to look into this,” Ayling told the planning commissioners.

He said he conducted a cursory search for city codes throughout the state regarding poultry. Some of those codes are much like Sunnyside’s and others allow a restricted number of chickens. The majority of codes that allow chickens within city limits prohibit roosters.

“If the commission decides to go that direction (allowing chickens), I would recommend prohibiting roosters,” said Ayling.

“Hens, however, do not cause the nuisance that roosters do,” he said.

Commissioner Bernie Barker, when reviewing the codes in other cities, noted that Richland allows a maximum of five pets, including chickens.

Commissioner Bruce Epps said the current Sunnyside code has been in place since 1983 and he doesn’t believe it should be changed.

The other two commissioners who were present at Tuesday’s meeting said they would like to learn more and hear from the public.

DeAnn Hochhalter said it is her belief that, if the code is changed, it must be restrictive.

Restrictions, she said, may include a coop requirement, land size qualification and number of chickens allowed.

Barker and Commissioner Victor Ochoa both said looking into the city code matters to them because they want to consider the fact that Sunnyside is an agricultural community.

Ayling said there are different options that can be considered, including restrictions like those suggested by Hochhalter and issuing special permits. The commission, he said, may also decide to leave the code as it is.

The commission said they would like to review the issue further.

Plans are to learn more at the next planning commission meeting with a public hearing to take place in the next few months.

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