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Mychel Matthews / TIMES-NEWS FILE PHOTO 

Cattle graze in this 2014 file photo.

A permit for backyard hens? This Twin Falls resident says strict code is for the birds.

TWIN FALLS — Want to have four dogs? Go ahead. Four cats? No problem. Four hens? Ask the neighbors.

Lindsay Jacobsen feels there’s something wrong with this picture. In Twin Falls, city code allows residents to have up to four dogs, four cats and three rabbits without an animal permit. But livestock animals are a horse of another color.

“Right now with poultry, even to have one in your backyard, you have to have a permit,” Twin Falls Code Enforcement Coordinator Sean Standley said.

This requires an extensive process of neighbor notification, and Jacobsen thinks that should change. On Monday, she’s bringing her proposal to the City Council to change the code and allow residents to have up to four hens without a permit.

“Chickens in a backyard — that’s a lot more pleasant than dogs in a backyard, I would think, depending on how they’re managed,” Jacobsen said. “It takes four hens to produce the same manure as a medium-sized dog.”

Jacobsen raised poultry and other livestock when she lived outside of Buhl. But four years ago, challenging circumstances led her to move to Twin Falls.

Her five children, ages 3 to 16 — “I don’t have permits for them, either,” she notes — had asked her if they could get some chickens at their Twin Falls home. She looked into the permit process and discovered how complicated it was.

“I looked at the kids and said, ‘We could do this and jump through these hoops, although it kind of irks me,’” Jacobsen said.

But instead, she decided to use it as an educational opportunity to teach her children.

“Let’s see what it would take to make this kind of a change,” she said. “It’s a win-win, in my opinion.”

Following the code

Katelyn Schwennen and her fiancé, Erik Wenninger, have gone door-to-door to 47 houses in their neighborhood to ask, “Can we have chickens?” Many of their neighbors looked confused.

City code requires an animal permit for anyone who wants to keep poultry, horses, mules, donkeys, cows, sheep, goats, more than three rabbits — or any other outdoor animal except dogs and cats — in the city.

For poultry, residents need to have at least 5,000 square feet of real property and get approval from the city sanitation inspector. The enclosures must be at least 40 feet away from another person’s house to be up to scratch.

But that’s not all. Schwennen and Wenninger — and anyone else trying to get an animal permit — have to contact every resident within 300 feet of their house. Furthermore, 75 percent of those neighbors have to provide a signature telling the city they’re OK with the animals.

Schwennen lives on the south side of town, where lots are small, and she has heard back from all but 14 of her neighbors (some of the property owners live out of town and had to be reached by mail). She and Wenninger have been handing out letters with photos of themselves and an explanation of what they want to do.


Katelyn Schwennen and Erik Wenninger left this letter on neighbors' doors explaining why they want chickens and need signatures of approval.

“We’ve only had two people who have said no,” she said. “It was good to meet our neighbors.”

She and her fiancé are asking to have six hens, but no roosters.

“We’re both vegetarians, and obviously love eating eggs and love eating farm-fresh eggs from chickens that are treated well,” Schwennen said.

They’re about five signatures away from getting 75 percent approval.

“We’re getting really worried because it’s been like two weeks since we sent some of the letters out,” she said.

Backyard birds

It’s chick season at D&B Supply.

Every Wednesday this spring, the local farm supply store gets 800 chicks — 500 layers and 300 meat birds — said employee Tom Skinner, who specializes in animal health. The young birds are practically flying off the shelves.

Backyard chickens are becoming more popular in this area, Skinner said.

“We’re selling more chicks than we have in a few years,” he said.

But the chicks come with a warning: Chicks turn into chickens, and those come with more responsibility.

“They’re not pets,” Skinner said.


Chicks walk under heat lamps Thursday afternoon at D&B Supply in Twin Falls.

This year, there are 73 animal permits citywide, Standley said. Of those, he estimates 60 percent are for people who have poultry — chickens, ducks and geese. About 10 percent of animal permits are for people with four or fewer chickens.

But interestingly enough, city code does not currently prohibit someone from owning roosters — as long as they have a permit for poultry.

“You throw a rooster into a neighborhood, and it’s a neighborhood dispute,” Standley said.

And anyone who’s owned a rooster knows that they don’t crow only in the morning. But fortunately, most city residents who get roosters get rid of them when neighbors complain, he said.

Standley is asking the City Council on Monday to consider allowing people to own four hens without a permit, and to ban roosters within city limits.

Schwennen doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers but thinks that city code is somewhat prohibitive for homeowners when they have to contact someone three streets away. She thinks it would make more sense if people just had to ask their nearest neighbors if they could have a few hens.

“Their cluck is about as loud as a normal human conversation,” she said.

The City Council meets at 5 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 203 Main Ave. E. After Jacobsen gives her presentation, Standley will ask the Council for direction.

Poultry, police and proclamations: Twin Falls City Council has full agenda Monday

TWIN FALLS — The City Council took off for spring break, and now it’s back to the grindstone.

On Monday, the Council meets for the first time since March 19 — and its agenda is cram-packed with requests. First, the Council will read three proclamations and sign off on the consent calendar. But the meat of the meeting includes a discussion about the city’s animal codes, swearing in of new police officers and a public hearing for sale of a city-owned building.

The Council meets at 5 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 203 Main Ave. E. During the meeting, the mayor and City Council members will:

  • Read a proclamation declaring April 2018 as Primary Immunodeficiency Awareness Month.
  • Read a proclamation declaring April 2018 as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
  • Read a proclamation declaring April 1, 2018, as Century of Service Day for the Rotary Club of Twin Falls.
  • Swear in four new Twin Falls Police Department officers.
  • Consider a request to amend City Code 6-3-4 to allow citizens to maintain or keep up to four hen poultry without an animal permit.
  • Receive the 2017 Annual Report on the Urban Renewal Agency.
  • Consider a request to adopt an ordinance adding “Agritourism” as a permitted use for agricultural lands, and as a special use in a part of the area of impact.
  • Consider a request to adopt an ordinance allowing “Wedding Chapels and/or Reception Halls, on 3 acres of more” by special permit in the area of impact.
  • Consider a request to adopt an ordinance for a zoning district change and zoning map amendment for the Magic Valley Mall at 1485 Pole Line Road.
  • Hear a presentation and update on the city’s Cross Connection Control program.
  • Consider a request to approve the list of surplus equipment and parts submitted by the water department.
  • Conduct a public hearing for a request to dispose of real property at 324 Hansen St. E., by way of public auction.
  • Adjourn to executive session for the purposes of: evaluating, dismissing or disciplining — or hearing complaints or charges brought against — a public officer, employee, staff member, individual agent or public school student; and to communicate with legal counsel to discuss the legal ramifications and options for pending litigation or controversies imminently likely to be litigated.

If you do one thing

If you do one thing: An oil painting class for beginners and experienced painters will be held at 1:30 p.m. at the Twin Falls Senior Center, 530 Shoshone St. W. Cost is $25. To register for the class, call 208-734-5084.

Burley works to integrate information from departments by upgrading technology

BURLEY — The city of Burley has taken a bold step into the future by launching its own high-speed internet line that will integrate information for all the city’s departments and allow public access to more documents and maps online.

And, Burley wants to spread the wealth by sharing with neighboring towns.

After updating city infrastructure maps and implementing automated meters, the city needed to move to a high-speed internet, said City Administrator Mark Mitton.

The system has both hard-wired and wireless service.

“We ran into a bottleneck and couldn’t get the data back and forth,” he said.

Previously the city was maintaining four networks, which was managed by three city employees and will now be consolidated under one system and one manager.

The capacity of the system is 10 gigabytes, and the city will use about 20 percent of that to start. Mitton said there is enough capacity to offer use to all cities within a 20-mile radius.

That idea has sparked interest among officials in Heyburn, said City Administrator Tony Morley.

Mitton said Heyburn would use only about 1 percent of the system’s capacity, and Burley would likely charge a flat fee per user.

“We are happy to work with the other cities,” Mitton said.

The new system will be managed by ETS, based in Utah, which sells and installs wireless network systems. One advantage of having the system managed by a company is that it would be responsible for keeping it running, Mitton said.

Most of the service will be performed remotely but the company will come to Burley twice a year to check on it. The city has also installed backup equipment to ensure security and reliability.

The equipment includes five dishes attached to the city water tower on 16th Street and Albion Avenue with each dish directed at a department and a server room at the water department, which is under lock and key.

Cost for the equipment and installation is $175,000, and it will cost the city about $200 a month more for the service than the city was paying before.

“But everyone in the city will have a lot better connection,” Mitton said. “That has been a major frustration for employees who are trying to get work done and share information and documents.”

For several years the city has been updating its physical maps that show where the infrastructure for city services are. The city has multiple departments in different locations and an internet system that wouldn’t allow the city to integrate information from all the departments.

Every employee had their own map book, “and they were not alike and they couldn’t share,” Mitton said. Several key city employees also retired in the past few years, taking with them institutional knowledge of those inner city workings.

“We were left wondering where a particular storm drain goes and while you might think it goes that way, it could take unexpected twists,” he said.

Most of the inventory of the infrastructure is now complete. The city’s new automated meters will also function on the system. Eventually, all the water and sewer stations and wells will be hooked up to the system and all the city service employees on the street will have tablets—so changes like a water valve being turned off at a location will show up on the system almost immediately, Mitton said.

The changes will also allow the city to put up infrastructure maps and other documents online for easy public access.

The city is currently using a temporary internet phone line, which will be replaced with a permanent one within the next few weeks.

“Future plans include using it for events like the Regatta and Spudman,” Mitton said. “We’ll be able to turn on wi-fi for those types of events or at any of the parks for a day.”

Trump on deal for 'Dreamer' immigrants: 'NO MORE' (copy)

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump on Sunday declared “NO MORE” to a deal to help “Dreamer” immigrants and threatened to pull out of a free trade agreement with Mexico unless it does more to stop people from crossing into the U.S. He claimed they’re coming to take advantage of protections granted certain immigrants.

“NO MORE DACA DEAL!” Trump tweeted one hour after he began the day by wishing his followers a “HAPPY EASTER!”

He said Mexico must “stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!” The U.S., Canada and Mexico are participating in tense negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement at Trump’s insistence. Trump says NAFTA is bad for the U.S.

“Mexico has got to help us at the border,” Trump, holding his wife’s hand, told reporters before the couple attended Easter services at an Episcopal church near his Palm Beach, Florida, home. “If they’re not going to help us at the border, it’s a very sad thing between our two countries.”

“A lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of DACA,” he added.

Former President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to provide temporary protection and work permits to hundreds of thousands of immigrants who are living in the U.S. illegally after being brought here as children. Trump ended the program last year, but gave Congress six months to pass legislation enshrining it. A deal has so far proved elusive and Trump has blamed Democrats.

It was not immediately clear what Trump was referring to when he said people are coming to take advantage of the program.

The Department of Homeland Security is not issuing new permits, although existing ones can be renewed. The Obama administration allowed sign-ups during a set period of time, and the program is closed to new entrants.

Proposed DACA deals crafted by lawmakers and rejected by Trump also were not open to new participants.

Trump did not explain what he meant when questioned by reporters as he entered the Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea with the first lady and his daughter Tiffany. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.

Trump, when addressing reporters briefly before entering the church, again blamed Democrats for failing to protect the “Dreamers.”

“They had a great chance. The Democrats blew it. They had a great, great chance, but we’ll have to take a look because Mexico has got to help us at the border. They flow right through Mexico. They send them into the United States. It can’t happen that way anymore.”

Trump promised during the 2016 presidential campaign to build a southern border wall to stop illegal immigration and drugs from Mexico, but Congress has frustrated him by not moving as quickly as he wants to provide money for construction.

The president also complained on Twitter that border patrol agents can’t do their jobs properly because of “ridiculous liberal (Democrat) laws” that allow people caught for being in the country illegally to be released while they await a hearing before a federal immigration judge.

Trump tweeted that the situation is “Getting more dangerous” and “Caravans” are coming. He did not offer details to back his comment.

The president’s tweets came after Fox News’ “Fox & Friends” reported early Sunday on what it said is a group of 1,200 immigrants, mostly from Honduras, headed to the U.S. The segment was a follow-up to a report by Buzzfeed News on hundreds of Central Americans making their way through Mexico in hopes that American authorities will grant them asylum or be absent when they attempt to cross the border.

The Fox headline was “Caravan of illegal immigrants headed to U.S.” The president is known to watch the cable TV program in the morning.

Brandon Judd, leader of the union representing border patrol agents, predicted on “Fox & Friends” that those in the caravan would create havoc and chaos in the U.S. as they wait for what he described as immigration reform. Judd also said Congress needs to pass tougher laws, an idea Trump appeared to echo, and create more bed space for immigration authorities to house people.

Some fellow Republicans chided Trump over the tone of the tweets.

“A true leader preserves & offers hope, doesn’t take hope from innocent children who call America home. Remember, today is Easter Sunday,” tweeted Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Trump critic who challenged him for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Sunday’s church visit was Trump’s first public appearance with his wife since CBS’s “60 Minutes” aired an interview the previous Sunday with Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who says she had sex with Trump in 2006, early in his marriage and a few months after the Mrs. Trump had given birth to their son. The White House says Trump denies the affair. Mrs. Trump spent most of the past week in Palm Beach with her son.

The Trumps were returning to Washington later Sunday.

Tony Dejak, Associated Press 

Notre Dame's Arike Ogunbowale, left, is congratulated by teammate Jackie Young after sinking a 3-point basket to defeat Mississippi State 61-58 on Sunday.