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Agrarian Harvest

A sign warns drivers that chickens are at play Aug. 23 at Agrarian Harvest in Buhl.

PAT SUTPHIN, TIMES-NEWS

TWIN FALLS — Residents of Twin Falls can now own up to four hens without having to go through an extensive permit process, but roosters are banned altogether.

The City Council on Monday unanimously approved the ordinance making the changes to city animal codes after it conducted a public hearing. The code already allows up to four dogs, four cats and three rabbits without a permit, and it prohibits pigs and hogs.

Residents who spoke held different positions on the code change, but most were in favor.

“I think there’s so many benefits that outweigh the cons,” Heather Evans said.

Previously, if someone wanted to have even one chicken they would have to contact all neighbors within 300 feet of their home and get written approval from 75 percent of those neighbors. Additionally, the city required a sanitation inspection of the person’s property.

“I think that the 300 feet restriction is a bit obnoxious,” resident Cort Johnson said.

But one homeowner was not in favor of changing the rules to allow hens without a permit.

“I moved to the city because I don’t want to live next to chickens,” said Sandy Hacking. “I know what goes on with chickens. The hens stop laying and out comes the ax, out comes the burn barrel, out comes the boiling water — and they hang them on my swing set.”

Hacking said she lives in a subdivision that prohibits poultry. The Council recognized that the city has no enforcement over subdivision rules, but there is legal recourse for homeowners if a neighbor violated those rules. Twin Falls residents could complain to the city about the condition of animal dwellings.

Dennis Crawford, a resident of 45 years who grew up on a farm, objected to the ban on roosters, saying he enjoyed hearing them crow in the morning.

But Code Enforcement Coordinator Sean Standley said roosters are an issue.

“If you want to create a neighborhood dispute, let somebody have a rooster chicken,” he said.

The ordinance was initially proposed by resident Lindsay Jacobsen, who wanted to have a small number of hens for her children. At an earlier meeting, Jacobsen had pointed out that hens recycle food waste and are normally not any louder than a human conversation. She felt a small number shouldn’t be more restricted than dogs or cats.

To own poultry in Twin Falls, residents have to have at least 5,000 square feet of land and must coop the birds at least 40 feet away from any other house.

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Also at the meeting, the City Council voted to have staff move forward with an ordinance that will eliminate the parking pass requirement in the city’s seven downtown parking lots. Before the city suspended the program in 2017, anyone who wanted to park for more than three hours in those lots had to pay for a pass.

But the parking passes generated only about $9,000 in revenue. Meanwhile, the city would like to re-stripe the lots and remove the parking blocks to make them easier for snow removal and cleaning. Furthermore, the current system “is a little bit confusing,” Councilwoman Ruth Pierce said.

Councilman Chris Talkington motioned to draft the ordinance “to bring in this new era of parking downtown.”

If the ordinance is adopted, the city would immediately begin to clean the lots and re-stripe them with different colors to distinguish where people can park for short-term and long-term parking. All parking would be free.

Also at the meeting, the Council:

  • Approved the Shoshone Falls Light event on May 17, 18 and 19 at Shoshone Falls Park.
  • Adopted an ordinance rezoning 10 acres on the south side of the 400 block of undeveloped Diamond Avenue West.
  • Adopted an ordinance rezoning 1 acre at 1211 Addison Avenue West.
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