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Chickens come home to roost in Oak Harbor

Shane Levi Hoffmire, the son of Shane Hoffmire, holds Penny, one of the family’s three backyard hens. Penny is a 2-year-old-Russian Orloff, which are considered a critically endangered breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.  - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Shane Levi Hoffmire, the son of Shane Hoffmire, holds Penny, one of the family’s three backyard hens. Penny is a 2-year-old-Russian Orloff, which are considered a critically endangered breed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor resident Shane Hoffmire admits to calling a veterinarian in the middle of the night to perform emergency surgery on a chicken that gobbled down a metal bolt.

While other families dote on dogs or cats, Hoffmire says his family prefers their backyard chickens and he obviously will go to great lengths to care for them.

“These little critters are worth their weight in gold as they can provide your family with healthy organic food and can teach our youth respect and compassion along with so many other of life’s lessons,” Hoffmire told City Council members in an impassioned speech about the fowl.

Luckily for the Hoffmires and many like them, the chickens have been legalized, just in time for chick season.

The Oak Harbor City Council unanimously passed an ordinance last week to permit the keeping and raising of up to six hens within city limits. The city joins Coupeville, Anacortes, Seattle and other cities across the nation in embracing the urban chicken trend.

Larry Eaton, a former city councilman, brought up the issue last year after he discovered his family’s backyard chickens are not allowed under city code.

It turns out that a lot of people in Oak Harbor have been unknowingly violating the code by keeping chickens. Even Mayor Scott Dudley said his neighbor has a small brood.

As a result, the council instructed city staff to hatch a proposal reversing the prohibition.

City staff members apparently had a lot of fun with the assignment. Steve Powers, director of Development Services, came up with a series of chicken-related puns during an earlier council meeting, eliciting groans and a few chuckles from the audience.

Last Tuesday he kept a promise to refrain from such fowl jokes.

The new ordinance allows a maximum of six hens, but no roosters. It states that they must be kept within a fence, pen or coop in backyards.

 

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