The Spokane Valley City Council didn’t scratch around proposed changes that would relax restrictions on the number of chickens residents can have on their property.
Instead, at Tuesday night’s meeting, council members were simply briefed and will hear public comments March 8 before deciding whether or not to pass a first reading of an ordinance that could increase the number of clucks in Spokane Valley neighborhoods.
The city’s Planning Commission recently voted unanimously in favor of allowing folks to allow more of the feathered fryers to populate the backyards of Spokane Valley homes. A public hearing earlier this month drew a large crowd, who largely spoke in favor of allowing fowl – which, in turn, would supply their owners with fresh eggs and even fresher lawn fertilizer.
While the number of hens allowed per parcel would depend largely on its size and location in the city, there would be a couple of major caveats: No noisy roosters and wings would have to be clipped so nothing could fly the coop.
Under existing city rules, chickens are only allowed on lots larger than 40,000 square feet. All birds must be kept in the backyard and at least 75 feet away from structures with anyone living in them and 10 feet away from property lines.
According to Christina Janssen, assistant planner, the city’s code-enforcement department receives about one or two complaints a month from folks regarding chickens – mainly about the noise from early-rising roosters. For that reason, the Planning Commission has recommended the male of the species be banned.
Also under the proposed new rules, one chicken would be allowed per 2,000 square feet of lot area. A maximum of 25 birds would be allowed, and coops or hutches must be kept a minimum of 20 feet from the front property line (meaning no front yards), five feet from the side and rear property lines, and 15 feet from flanking streets. The coops would also have to be kept 25 feet from occupied structures.
Also on the March 8 agenda, the council will consider a first reading of an ordinance that’s designed to close a loophole in the city’s adult-retail ordinance. Currently, retail adult-themed businesses (like Castle Superstore) are licensed and regulated significantly less stringently than adult-entertainment venues (like Déjà vu).
Under proposed changes, businesses who specialize in retail sales of adult movies will only be allow to show them free of charge and not having customer-paid viewing areas like adult-entertainment clubs. Recently, however, the Planning Commission proposed even tougher language to the law that any viewing would have to be done on the general sales floor “in full public view” and would have to be limited to only showing promotional film clips, not full movies, for free.
The idea, according to city staff, is to remove the incentive for the businesses to show the adult footage at all.
Finally, the council unanimously agreed to pass a second reading of an ordinance that would implement fines for those under 18 found in possession of e-cigarettes as well as for stores who sell the products to minors. Both Spokane County and the city of Spokane have approved similar regulations.
The rules are meant to be a stopgap measure until the federal or state government comes up with alternate provisions.