LOCAL NEWS

Neighbors in Washington Terrace pushing for ordinance to allow chickens

Aug 10, 2022, 6:26 PM | Updated: 7:27 pm

WASHINGTON TERRACE, Utah — Some homeowners in Weber County are asking for a rule change regarding chickens.

The Washington Terrace Backyard Chicken Alliance wants to be able to keep backyard chickens they say the city told them they could have. Now, they’re being told it’s illegal in the city.

Some of the chicken owners KSL TV spoke to Wednesday said they get an average of three eggs a day — eggs they don’t have to refrigerate and keep longer.

A city leader said he understands the desire to have chickens, but Washington Terrace isn’t the place to do it.

“Come here, little one,” Becky Parr said to her hen named Pebbles.

Pebbles, Morticia and Ginger are more than just hens; they’re a living lesson.

“It’s the ability to teach my kids where food comes from, that food doesn’t just come out of a box or a can,” she said.

These Washington Terrace homeowners say they’re passionate about their backyard livestock.

“Means a lot for your family, for stability, for security,” Amanda Hartley said.

Hartley was cited for owning hens.

“I sent a message to our code enforcement officer in March, and he said we could have three hens, no roosters. So, I got chickens. In June, we got cited,” Hartley said.

She’s not afraid to ruffle some feathers to change the city’s rules.

“We had been quoted the wrong code, and multiple people had gotten chickens as a result of me giving them the wrong information,” Hartley said.

(Shelby Lofton/KSL TV)

City Manager Tom Hanson said all cities but two in Weber County allow backyard hens, and there’s a reason Washington Terrace leaders are opposed.

“The smells from waste, the influx of rats, raccoons and other little critters will go into that environment,” Hanson said.

Hanson said it’s a cleanliness issue, but also noted the small size of most lots in the city.

“If they’re taken care of properly, what difference does it make if it’s a chicken, dog or a cat?” Parr said.

These hen owners argue the city ordinance should lay out standards for coop upkeep.

Hanson said the city doesn’t have the capacity to enforce those rules, on top of basic code enforcement.

“We’re struggling quite a bit with people just following the basic principles of taking care of your home,” he said.

For Hartley and her neighbors, the hens play a huge role in their household.

“What we teach our children by having them raise chickens and having them collect eggs is stability and independence, and that is something our country lives off of,” Hartley said.

Hartley said with inflation, having a daily supply of eggs from her own chickens saves her family a lot of money. She said a lot of the chicken owners share their eggs with people who are food insecure in the community.

She plans on attending the next city council meeting to keep this discussion going.

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Neighbors in Washington Terrace pushing for ordinance to allow chickens