Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Chicken liberation hearing Thurs. night in Lake Forest Park

by May 10th, 2012

Behold the versatile egg. How much better, some say, to harvest eggs from your own backyard than in polystyrene or cardboard packages from the grocery store. As interest grows in urban agriculture and locally-sourced foods, it’s not only in overtly green cities such as Seattle that governments are being asked to help pave the way back to a simpler time. Some suburban communities that were once rural are returning to their roots. And so at its regularly scheduled meeting Thursday May 10 the Lake Forest Park City Council will hold a public hearing on a long-in-the-works proposed ordinance to make it easier for local residents to keep chickens on their properties. At approximately 7:30, half an hour in to the council meeting, the hearing is scheduled on the measure to amend to the Lake Forest Park Municipal Code in response to “an increase in citizen demand for backyard chickens and the need to streamline the process associated with regulating this activity,” according to a city staff memo attached to the ordinance.

The new legislative language, about which the council would like to hear from constituents during the public hearing portion of the meeting, makes several changes to existing rules for keeping backyard chickens. Key are proposed new regulations in Table 2 which ease current restrictions requiring a 20,000 square foot minimum residential lot size for the first outdoor chicken and another 5,000 square feet for each extra one. The new language would permit up to eight chickens on a single-family lot of up to 10,000 square feet, and one more chicken for each additional 2,500 square feet, with up to 15 chickens on a single-family lot of 25,000 square feet or more.

But there are some new rules for these homes on the range. No roosters are permitted. Structures housing chickens must be at least 10 feet from the owner’s home or any neighboring home, and cannot be more than 120 square feet and eight feet tall.

The draft ordinance would also amend regulations on residential beekeeping. Existing city code allows no more than four hives per 10,000 square foot residential property, with one additional hive for each additional 2,500 square feet of property, and up to 10 hives total. The new language allows up to two hives on lots smaller than 10,000 square feet, four on lots between 10,001 and 12,500 square feet, and one more for each additional 2,500 square feet of property, also up to 10 hives total. As previously, just one swarm per hive is allowed. The ordinance also includes new language on feeding wildlife, human conduct toward wildlife, traps, poison and animal housing.

The proposed new rules stem from city Planning Commission recommendations, and a broader look at regulation of urban wildlife by a city Wildlife Task Force which developed a Wildlife Management Plan. The City Council is expected to vote on the code revisions at a meeting following the public hearing.

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