The Marysville City Council made changes to their laws on chickens, defining specifics for keeping backyard chickens, and extended the city's moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and collective gardens again during their June 11 meeting.
Backyard Chicken Regulations:
Previously, Marysville had few regulations about keeping chickens in urban areas. What little they did said chicken and rooster enclosures must be 100 feet away from property lines, which didn't allow for any chickens on small residential lots.
The council approved new regulations that allow for backyard chickens as long as chicken enclosures are 20 feet away from neighbors' residential structures. Urban chicken farmers can keep a maximum of six female chickens; no roosters are allowed on lots that are less than an acre.
The ordinance passed on a 4-3 vote.
Councilmember Jeff Vaughan felt that some of the regulations, particularly the limit on the number of chickens, were too restrictive.
"If you have 12 chickens and you're in perfect harmony with your neighborhood, it's not an issue. This is more of an enforcement issue and is about the people that don't take care of them," said Councilmember Stephen Muller.
The regulations are about having a legal recourse to respond to complaints, so if your neighbors are not having any problems with your chicken coops you shouldn't have a problem either, said Muller.
Vaughan wondered why chickens were being singled out with these regulations. "When you talk about the two things people complain about most with neighbors, and that is noise and odor, I would guess the city has received far more complaints about barking dogs than clucking chickens," he said.
Dogs also pose more of a health risk than chickens with their fleas, ticks, parasitical worms and feces, Vaughan argued, citing his background in public health.
"Now the reason why I bring all this up - I don't mean to gross you out and I'm sorry for that - is so that you all will be a little more comfortable about having a chicken close to your property," he said.
The council voted unanimously to approve a one-year extension on the moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and collective gardens in Marysville.
The moratorium was originally passed last year in July and renewed for six months in December.
A moratorium was approved because of the disparities in medical marijuana law between the state and national government, and the possibility of changes that are coming, said Grant Weed, city attorney.
"There remain a lot of questions and uncertainties created by the conflicts between state and federal law. In addition, there are likely going to be some voter initiatives heard this November," said Gloria Hirashima, chief administrative officer.
Weed noted that Governor Gregoire and Rhode Island's governor have petitioned the national government to reclassify medical marijuana as a prescription drug, "but we don't know when or if the federal government is going to respond, said Weed."
The moratorium will stay in effect until July 5, 2013.