Backyard hens ordinance a scratch closer to approval |

Backyard hens ordinance a scratch closer to approval

Backyard chickens narrowly passed the Grass Valley Planning Commission Tuesday evening.

In a 3 to 1 vote, the commissioners recommended an ordinance that would no longer require residents to have a special use permit costing thousands of dollars to own chickens, allowing up to four chickens on the property of single-family residences and residential estates as long as they provide a pen or coop to house the animals.

The commissioners added a requirement for some sort of permit for chicken owners, a 30-foot setback, instead of 20, from a neighboring home, and a six-month review of the ordinance.

The dissenting vote came from Commissioner Daniel Swartzendruber.

“I have a lot of concerns about this thing,” Swartzendruber said. “With budget cutbacks, I’m wondering how we’re going to expect the city to enforce this, and I’m concerned with my property value.”

Grass Valley resident Chuck King said he was also worried about predators and pests drawn by chickens into the neighborhoods.

But the ordinance contains stipulations to protect against those issues, said Creative Coops owner Mark Hall, adding chickens kill rats.

The ordinance would require that the chickens are properly secured from predators, that the food supply be properly stored and that manure is managed to prevent odor, flies and other pests, said Planning Director Tom Last.

Backyard chicken ordinances gained traction over the past few years as people turned to organic and free-range eggs as a sustainable, local food source.

The ordinance will go on to the City Council in October for a final decision.

To contact Staff Writer Greyson Howard, e-mail or call (530) 477-4237.

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