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What does this code mean?

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by hennypenny9, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. hennypenny9

    hennypenny9 Songster

    I live in Bellingham, Washington and hope to get a couple hens next year. I live within the city limits and have a very small lot, less than a quarter acre. This is what I've found on animals in Bellingham. It seems as though it is legal unless there is some ordinance saying no. I looked at the ordinances, but they aren't organized very well. I will be calling the city, but I don't trust them not to just say no when there is no ordinance to back them up.


    A. Any person being the owner or entitled to the possession of any animal of the species of horse, mule, ass, cattle, sheep, goat, domesticated fowl and exotic animals (except domesticated fowl maintained in a residence), including but not limited to, duck, chicken, goose, turkey or peafowl or swine of any kind, shall be permitted to keep the same within the limits of the City except as the same is now or may be hereafter forbidden by ordinance, by securely confining the same in a stable or other building; or an enclosure surrounded by a secure, well-built fence of sufficient height and strength to confine such animal therein; or the same may be securely staked out in a vacant lot in such manner that it cannot get upon any street, alley, or other public place within the City provided that the same is so confined or staked out as to effectively prevent it getting within 50' of any dwelling or other building in which persons work or are accustomed to be, or near enough to the property of another to do any damage thereto or commit any nuisance thereupon; and provided, further, that any such animal shall be considered as running at large when it breaks away from its fastenings or is herded or permitted to feed upon any of the streets, alleys or other public places of the City.

  2. chickmamawannabe

    chickmamawannabe Songster

    Aug 20, 2008
    Canby, Or-y-gun
    I hate reading city code, it's so confusing! It sounds like you should be able to keep chickens in your backyard, but not your house? And I guess there must be seperate ordinances for each type of animal? That's a very strangely worded code.
    BTW [​IMG]
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2008
  3. It says to me:

    1) You need to be the owner of the animals or be allowed by your landlord to have them.
    2) Chickens are "domesticated fowl"
    3) The chickens need to be confined to a secure fenced in area, no less than 50 feet from abutters. The enclosure cannot encroach upon any public space like a street or alley.
    4) The city reseves the right to change their mind in the future and not nessarily grandfather exsiting chickens (the words you have in bold.)

    One thing this ordnance does not address, but you should research anyway:

    Whether or not you need some type of permit. This ordance only adresses panalties for non-compliance, so presuambley there might well be a permit ordance that mirrors this penalty ordance.

  4. pips&peeps

    pips&peeps There is no "I" in Ameraucana

    Jan 18, 2008
    Newman Lake, WA
    I want to see some "securely staked out" chickens.

    You could get some of those jersey giants and put a chain on them........ [​IMG]
  5. hennypenny9

    hennypenny9 Songster

    Thanks everyone! Maybe it would be easier to get Jersey Giants and claim that they're black labs. They could guard my yard!

    About permits, I wonder where these rules might be hidden? City ordinances are hard enough. They don't say the actual ordinance. This is just one example.

    Archived Ordinance
    Available on microfilm located in Finance Dept, 1st floor, City Hall, 210 Lottie Street. Contact City Clerk Representative, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Monday - Friday
    Agenda Bill Number: 8809
    Department: PCD
    Council Bill Number:
    Ordinance Number: 7496
    Resolution Number:
    Introduction Date: 11/23/1964
    Disposition Date: 12/07/1964
    Category: Ordinance
    Subject: Specific Use Permit, E.V. Stade and E.M. Grabowsky, chicken houses, 27th and Mill.
    Action: Approved
    Miscellaneous Information:
  6. Quote:The easiest way is to look up your city agencies in the phone book and and call the most likely ones to see if this is within their jurisdicton. Chicken permits can be managed by different local agencies depending on the city/town/county, and some examples are:

    Board of Health
    Code Enforcement
    Animal Control

    Also, looking up the permitting ordance is not always helpful because you're just reading the enacted legislation, and the agency that has been empowered to enforce the legislation has to set up the practical process and forms you'd need to fill out, so you'd end up with them anyway.


    P.S. You're quite welcome too!
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2008
  7. hennypenny9

    hennypenny9 Songster

    Update! It is legal*!

    Thank you Phyllis, I did try to call my county's Animal Control office, but the lines were all busy. So I emailed the City of Bellingham public records department. I got a reply right away saying that it is legal as long as I "keep them confined per the parameters in the BMC" Now I need to go measure, because they confirmed that I must keep them 50' away from other residences. I'm happy I have this in writing, just in case! My other concern is the broad "commit any nuisance" part. I'm HOPING that my neighbors won't complain, but you never know!

    C. All stables and other buildings and all enclosures and premises upon
    which any such animals are kept and confined shall be kept in a clean,
    healthful, and sanitary condition by the person owning, possessing, or
    using any such premises for said purposes; and no persons owning,
    possessing, or using any such premises shall permit any nuisance to be
    formed or to accumulate thereon.

  8. Quote:Well, it’s not as bad as you might think because statutes and ordnances are meant to be interpreted at face value and they address only the situation noted. In this example the word “nuisance" is used within the context of animal housing that must be clean, healthful and sanitary, so a "nuisance" has to be within that context, e.g. - no big poop piles, smells or conditions that would endanger the health of the chickens or nearby humans.

    The ordnance would not necessarily apply to someone who complained that your coop is a "nuisance” because they think chicken coops are ugly - this language doesn't talk about aesthetics, it’s only about cleanliness, health and sanitation and it does not mention standards of beauty or “good taste.”


    P.S. - You're very welcome!
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2008

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