Chickens get to cluck another day

A new six-chicken limit law ruffled the feathers of about 50 Medford residents who pleaded with the City Council Thursday night to put the new law on the chopping block.

And the council listened.

By a 4-3 vote, the council decided to not enforce its new in-city law in light of the outpouring from chicken lovers.

Many in the audience told the council the six-chicken limit was based on just one complaint from one neighbor on Cherry Lane.

"This is all because of one foul neighbor," said Elizabeth Hall, a senior at South Medford High. "This has gone too far."

Like other residents, Hall said six chickens per property can't always produce enough eggs for a family.

She said it's a waste of police officer resources to have to check on households to enforce the new chicken limit.

After about a half-dozen residents voiced opposition, Councilor Kevin Stine said, "I move to not enforce our current chicken ordinance that was just passed."

The council will likely come back at a later time to vote on whether to rescind the existing ordinance.

Councilor Dick Gordon, who voted "no" to not enforcing the new law along with councilors Michael Zarosinski and Tim D'Alessandro, said the ordinance wouldn't take effect until January, so he thought there was plenty of time for the council to address the matter.

Regina Davis, who had received a complaint about the chickens on her 2-acre Cherry Lane property, said most of her neighbors are just fine with her 15 chickens, but one neighbor has complained often about her coops.

She said she denies one of the complaints that she had 50 chickens, saying she has had only 25 at the most.

At one point during the meeting, Medford resident Heidi Smith walked down to speak to the council with a carton of eggs in her hand.

"Are we going to be offered eggs as a bribe," quipped Councilor Stine.

Smith starting naming off the names of the chickens who laid the eggs in the carton.

She said raising chickens has really helped her 11-year-old daughter's upbringing, teaching her the basics of economics as well as the feeding and caring of her "girls."

Limiting her daughter to six chickens would severely limit her daughter's ability to provide eggs to her family and to neighbors.

"Bringing her livlihood down to six chickens would cut her off at the knees," Smith said.

Medford resident Adam Davis, who is married to Regina Davis, turned toward the audience and asked for a show of hands from people supporting chickens. Most in the audience raised their hands.

"This has greatly affected a lot of people," Davis said.

He told the council that chickens can be raised in the city without causing problems with neighbors.

Davis suggested revoking the ordinance and relying on the noise and nuisance ordinances the city already has on the books.

Also, he didn't think a setback from a neighboring property for the chicken coop or run was appropriate. Instead, he thought the distance from a neighboring structure was a more important measurement.

Medford resident Robert Hutchins said his wife has a few chickens, and he did have a rooster before, but it died.

He suggested the council consider giving residents who were previously in the country but incorporated into the city in recent years special consideration so they can keep their flock of chickens.

"Those already there should have the right to do what they were already doing," he said.

— Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or Follow him on

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