Despite some concerns that rural activities don’t belong in urban areas, Wenatchee City Council members agreed Thursday to allow chickens and other small farm animals in all city neighborhoods.
The new rules will be reviewed in one year to determine whether they are working or if there are any problems.
Susan Ballinger, who helped initiate the rule change with her letter to city officials nearly a year ago, told council members she plans to start building her chicken coop this weekend.
Under the new rules, residents will be able to keep up to four small farm animals on a half-acre or less. City lots a half acre or larger can have 12 small farm animals per acre and one large farm animal per 10,000 square feet of maintained pasture.
No peacocks, pigs or roosters will be allowed.
While the rule change covers all farm animals, the focus has primarily been on chickens. Most of the letters and calls to the city have been from people who either want to raise chickens or don’t want their neighbors to.
City Council members Karen Rutherford and Tony Veeder were outspoken in their thoughts on the issue – Rutherford supporting the change and Veeder strongly against it.
However, Veeder voted in favor of the new rules on Thursday after asking for the one-year review.
“I grew up with chickens. I understand the importance of raising children with farm animals,” he said. But, he added, “I’m trying to maintain the image of urban living (in Wenatchee), and not the image of chickens running down our roads.”
Councilman Jim Bailey said he also has reservations about relaxing the city’s farm animal rules.
“My greater concern is the expectation of being able to do rural things in an urban setting,” he said.