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Urban farming answers sought by Spokane County

Who will respond to complaints about the smell and noise from backyard livestock?

Spokane County commissioners want to know.

Commissioners voted to send a letter to Spokane’s mayor and the Spokane City Council to clarify who is responsible for enforcement of rules regarding the keeping of chickens, ducks, turkey, sheep and small pigs in residential areas.

The City Council has approved an urban farming ordinance to let citizens raise and keep small farm animals. Allowing sale of homegrown produce passed unanimously.

Spokane County Regional Animal Protection Service took over animal control duties in the city starting in January under a financing agreement that took months to reach.

SCRAPS Director Nancy Hill said she is concerned that her agency will be getting complaints about noise, smells and animal welfare as a result of the new urban farms.

Protecting animals is clearly an issue for SCRAPS, she said, but noises and smells are probably complaints that could be handled by the city’s code enforcement office.

Residents who want to raise small livestock will have to obtain an animal-keeping certificate through Washington State University’s county extension program. Raising chickens would not require a certificate. Roosters are banned.

“I think we are going to get calls about manure piles,” County Commissioner Todd Mielke said.

Hill said research done by City Council members showed no large number of complaints in cities where small livestock keeping is allowed.

Commissioners said they are concerned about the cost of policing backyard livestock keeping, and the city may need to increase funding for SCRAPS to offset the cost.