Hens come to roost in Coupeville
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
December 20, 2011 · Updated 2:48 PM
After months of work, the Coupeville Town Council made it easier for people to raise poultry.
The council approved an ordinance last Tuesday night outlining the regulations to allow homeowners to raise chickens on their property.
Residents need not worry about hearing the cock crow thrice as only hens are allowed.
The rules detail the number of hens, six, that can be contained on a property. The rules require hens be housed in a fenced open area at least 20-feet in size and have an enclosed shelter that’s at least four square feet in size.
The chickens can’t be housed in areas adjacent to roads and neighbors can partner to own and maintain the chicken coop and care for the hens.
The Town Council held a public hearing before the vote to listen to concerns resident have about hens.
Al Bowers was concerned that the ordinance would require additional staff for the town.
“It looks like it was built intentionally to hire another employee,” Bowers said during the public meeting. He questioned who at Town Hall would administer the ordinance and who would enforce the ordinance.
“I think this ordinance should be looked at again and rewritten,” Bowers said.
Mayor Nancy Conard said existing staff would oversee the new regulations. Town Planner Larry Kwarsick would administer applications while police officers will enforce the regulations should anyone violate them.
Newly appointed council member Larry Cort questioned whether slaughtering chickens would be allowed on the properties. He recalled that when he was serving as town planner he got a call about someone slaughtering chickens on their property. The ordinance doesn’t appear to address that question.
Councilman Bob Clay said he was originally against the chicken ordinance, but was swayed after talking with several residents.
“I think it’s a great idea for us to try,” Clay said.
In the end, the Coupeville Town Council unanimously approved the ordinance. Councilwoman Dianne Binder was absent.
Conard said the Whidbey Island Conservation District is developing a rural homeowner’s guide outlining the best management practices for raising chickens.
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.