Six-chicken limit starts July 1

With little in the way of further discussion, a split Medford City Council green-lit an ordinance setting limits for poultry-keeping in the city.

Effective July 1, 2018, backyard chickens, ducks, geese and swans will be limited to six animals within Medford city limits, following a council's second reading and approval on the poultry ordinance Thursday evening.

In addition to the six-poultry limit, the law will prohibit roosters, require that poultry be kept in fenced areas no closer than 20 feet from abutting residences and will require the poultry keeper to maintain pens in safe condition. Keeping ostriches, emus, peacocks and turkeys is prohibited, the law said.

The poultry ordinance passed 5-2 with councilors Tim Jackle and Kay Brooks tendering no-votes and councilor Clay Bearnson abstaining. Thursday's votes matched the ordinance's first reading last month, previous news reports and documents in the city council agenda packet show. Because the ordinance had two no-votes Dec. 20, a second reading was required.

The vote concludes several months of back-and-forth. After directing city staff to draft an ordinance in August, the council first adopted the ordinance Oct. 5.

After roughly 50 poultry keepers and proponents of backyard chickens pleaded with the council to reconsider the limits Nov. 2, the council voted 4-3 not to enforce an ordinance with an Jan. 1 effective date.

On Dec. 20, the council first moved to pass the ordinance extending enforcement to July 1. Councilors stated at the time that the extension would give them time to consider ways to make the ordinance more flexible, taking into account variables such as lot sizes, previous news reports show.

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