Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ashland, Oregon - Council gives initial OK to 'green' codes


Council gives initial OK to 'green' codes
Popular Today
Ashland Daily Tidings
Posted: 2:00 AM March 07, 2012


The Ashland City Council gave its initial approval on Tuesday night for new rules that will legalize backyard chickens and tall deer fences.
Businesses in Ashland's historic districts will be able to install flat solar panels without planning approval — saving them time and $963 application fees.
Residents can have rain barrels and roof eaves that extend into side yard buffer zones.
Long eaves help shelter homes from summer sun and reduce air conditioning costs, while rain barrels capture rain water for irrigation.
Given typical lot sizes, most Ashlanders had been effectively barred from keeping chickens. Existing rules required that the birds be kept at least 75 feet away from neighboring homes.
With the rule changes, chicken coops and runs can be kept within 20 feet of neighboring homes. Roosters are not allowed because of their crowing.
Councilors are still undecided about the number of backyard chickens a person can have. City staff members had proposed five chickens, but several councilors and many residents who came to speak at a Tuesday night meeting said more chickens could be feasible.
City staff members will look into scaling up the number of allowed chickens based on lot size. Councilors will consider chicken numbers and other details when the various rule changes come back for final approval, which will likely be on March 20.
The proposed "green" changes to Ashland's planning rules are meant to support people's efforts to grow their own food and reduce energy and water use.
Local resident Edwin Chapman, who has experience with raising chickens, said limiting backyard chicken flocks to five birds is unreasonable. Hens slow down their egg production as they age. People would have to start killing their hens if they wanted to maintain egg production but could only have five chickens, he said.
"You wouldn't want to kill your cat because it's two years old," Chapman said.
He suggested up to 20 chickens be allowed per acre.
Initially, the proposed rule changes barred raising chickens for commercial purposes.
Local resident and chicken owner Nicole Graham said it's common for people with chickens to sell or trade eggs with their neighbors when they have excess eggs.
Councilors will look more in-depth at the issue of allowing small-scale selling and trading, without letting residents launch full-scale chicken raising and egg production facilities.
As for deer fences, they can be up to eight feet tall but must be built with posts and see-through material, such as mesh or wire.
Front yard fences are currently limited to three and a half feet, while backyards can have fences up to six and a half feet tall.
Despite those restrictions, many residents have tall deer fences that are currently illegal.
Many of the existing fences are already see-through because people want light to reach their gardens and landscaping, city staff members noted.
Deer fencing cannot be built with chain-link fence, under the rule changes.
Several people came forward at the Tuesday meeting to ask for even more loosening of Ashland rules that affect urban agriculture.
They would like rule changes to allow bee hives, rabbits and other animals to be closer to neighboring homes. Councilors did not take action on those suggestions.
Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-479-8199 or vlaldous@yahoo.com.

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