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Placer County supes give support to urban chicken raising

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Placer County supervisors made it easier Tuesday for most homeowners to have up to six chickens. No roosters, guinea hens and peahens will be allowed under a zoning amendment approved 4-0 by the board. But the county has cleared the way for its own reverse pioneers in a recent trend of raising chickens in urban environments. Auburn, Folsom and Roseville – as well as larger cities like Long Beach, Anaheim and San Diego – have already approved chicken-raising standards. The only addition to the action – crafted by the Community Development Resource Agency’s Planning Services Division over the past year – was for a review in a year to gauge how the rule change was doing. District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery requested the review and made the motion to amend zoning rules, stating it was seen my many people she talked to on the subject as an additional right for residents. Continued opposition has been voiced by Marilyn Jasper of the Public Interest Coalition and Rosemary Frieborn of the Humane Society of the Foothills. Jasper called on stiffer regulations to eliminate hens roaming “free-range” and becoming prey for predators. That would result in potential poisonings by chicken owners of predators, she said. Jasper said there should be a requirement to keep the chickens in enclosed areas. Frieborn also called for an amendment to keep chickens enclosed in structures at all times. Areas like Newcastle, with many homes and relatively small lots, will have conflicts, she warned. The area covered by the amendment covers unincorporated regions of the county with residential single-family, residential multi-family and resort zoning. The exception is the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which now requires a minimum lot area of 2 acres for keeping chickens but is currently updating its regional plan. Highlights of the new rules are: - No administrative review is required. Hen ownership will be by right. - Minimum lot size for raising chickens will be 5,000 square feet. - In agriculture-combining zones, property owners will be allowed no more than nine chickens (no roosters) on parcels less than a half-acre. - In residential forest districts, no more than 15 chicken hens can be kept on less than an acre. Michael Johnson, community development director, said existing fowl and poultry provisions contained in the current ordinance limit numbers to 100 in residential-agriculture, farm and agriculture-exclusive zones. The keeping of more than 100 fowl or poultry is considered a “chicken/turkey ranch” and only permitted in agriculture-exclusive and farm zones with a conditional use permit.