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Council authorizes chickens, amends animal codes

September 28, 2023

By: Katherine Trowbridge


The Connell City Council revisited the animal code amendments at their Sept. 20 meeting, particularly chickens. Police Chief Chris Lee brought three options. Chief Lee clarified that the current code, which excludes all poultry from the city, does infer a misdemeanor criminal charge for a violation. However, the Chief was not aware of this and it has not been enforced. Option one would not amend chapter 8.12 (poultry) and proceed with adopting other amendments regarding household pets, two to reduce the penalty of misdemeanor crime for poultry (which remain would not be allowed) to an infraction with a progressive fee, and three to amend the code to include chickens (only) with the exception of amending the housing standards.


Council member Joe Escalera took the public comments to heart and did his research sharing how he spoke with the City of Ritzville, City of Othello and City of Kennewick who saw no issues with having chickens. He also received a letter from the Benton Franklin Health District quelling concerns of Avian Flu.


Chief Lee stated that as far as concerns addressed by the council, “The only thing that is not covered is storage of food, which is not addressed in any animal code. So all the other concerns as far as nuisances and noise and all that are addressed.”


Although there were two council members who were not present, Mayor Lee Barrow called for a motion. KaTrina Kunkel made the motion to adopt option three adopting Ordinance No. 1035-2023 amending chapter 8.08, and 9.48 and adopting 8.12 to the Connell Municipal Code. Shelly Harper seconded the motion. Joe Escalera joined them with a unanimous vote of approval. This vote not only brought authorization for backyard chickens but also updated animal codes in a variety of areas that had previously been discussed.


The council also approved Resolution 2023-08 which allows the new animal code fees to be included in the Master Fee Schedule.


(*) While the code now allows for chickens it does not allow for “Poultry” which is defined as roosters, turkeys, waterfowl, game birds, pigeons, peacocks, doves and other domestic fowl. Chicken is defined as a domestic fowl kept for its eggs or meat and is a hen. A coop is defined as a structure generally made from wood and mesh wire for keeping chickens. A run is defined as an enclosed outdoor area attached to a coop to allow exercise for chickens. With the new code, it is stated that no person shall own, possess, keep, raise, or harbor poultry on his or her premises or property anywhere within the city limits, except for chickens.


With this, no more than six chickens are allowed at each property. And a property owner must obtain a permit for keeping chickens on their property. The permit fee will be set forth in the Master Fee Schedule as amended from time to time for each property. The application must include the property address and location on the property where the coop and run is located.


If you plan on keeping chickens, they must be housed in an enclosure that is designed to be predator proof, thoroughly ventilated, water-tight, easily accessed and cleaned, and at a minimum ten square feet of coop and run area per chicken. There must also be direct access from the coop to an outdoor enclosure which shall be provided with an outdoor enclosure designed to be predator proof. The coops and runs shall also be located within a side or rear yard only and shall be at least ten feet from any neighboring dwelling and within the property line. The coops and runs shall be kept in a neat, sanitary, dust-free condition, and must be cleansed at least once per week or more frequently if, in the opinion of the city, it is necessary to prevent an unsanitary condition. Any proposed coops and runs will be inspected by the city prior to the permit being issued.


Once the permit is obtained, the chickens must remain in their coops or runs. It is unlawful for any person to have custody or control of any chicken or to permit such chicken to be present upon any public street, sidewalk, school ground, public park, playground or any public place, or any unenclosed private property, without the consent of the owner of such property.


Here are things that can get you in trouble. Owning, possessing, harboring, controlling or keeping on any property, any chicken that continuously or incessantly makes noise for a period of 15 minutes or intermittently for an hour or more so as to unreasonably disturb the peace or quiet of any person. It is also unlawful for any person to kill or butcher any chicken in open public view within the city limits except if determined to be necessary by the city.


Now onto the penalties if you don’t follow the law if you decide to get some chickens. Any person violating any provision of this chapter shall be deemed to have committed an infraction and any person found committing an infraction under this chapter shall be assessed a monetary penalty as set forth in the Master Fee Schedule as amended from time to time. If a violation is continuing, each day shall be counted as a separate violation and a violation can result in revocation of a permit. If the permit is revoked by the city, the chickens will be held for 72 hours for the owner to remedy the conditions causing the revocation. If the conditions are not corrected, chickens held past 72 hours may be destroyed or transferred. If conditions are remedied, a re-permitting fee will be paid prior to release of chickens back to owner. The chief of police or designee has the authority to issue a notice of infraction and to enforce the provisions of this chapter.


Any person requested to identify themselves to a city designee pursuant to an investigation of any chicken infraction has a duty to identify themselves and five their current address. Failure to do so will result in a misdemeanor punishable by up to $1,000 fine and/or up to 90 days imprisonment.



(*correction to our print edition which read: The new code now allows for poultry within city limits - this was a misprint and as stated Poultry IS NOT allowed but chickens have now been authorized for eggs).

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