Chickens could be permitted in city limits

Subcommittee formed to move forward with chickens as household pets



Kevin Lassiter, left and Charles Lassiter sign in to the Planning Commission meeting with their 13-year-old hen Roanie on Wednesday at Pullman City Hall.

CARMEN JARAMILLO, Evergreen reporter

The Pullman Planning Commission unanimously voted to pursue a zoning change that would allow chickens to be kept as pets within city limits at their regular meeting Wednesday.

Current city code defines chickens as small domestic animals and requires they be approved by the city and only kept on properties of at least 10,000 square feet. This has generally made it impossible to house chickens in residential neighborhoods.

Household pets, like cats, dogs or rabbits, require no approval from the city and can be kept on properties of any size with little other regulation.

The proposed changes may allow chickens to be reclassified as household pets or allow residents to construct coops on properties smaller than 10,000 square feet.

The specifics of the change, like how many chickens one property can keep or regulations for chicken coops will be finalized in the coming months. A subcommittee made up of commissioners Stephanie Rink and Brent Carper were tasked with creating the zoning change language.

Supporters of the change said many cities on the west coast have adopted ordinances, which allow hens, but not roosters, to be kept in dwellings of any size.

Two young brothers, Kevin and Charles Lassiter, spoke in support of the change. They brought their 13-year-old pet chicken Roanie to the meeting and held her as they spoke to the commission. Roanie gave soft coos and clucks but was well-behaved.

Supporters also said that hens are no more disruptive than dogs or cats, which comprise the majority of animal complaints.

“The great thing about chickens is once the sun goes down, they don’t make any noise,” Pullman resident Kyle Shelly said. “I don’t see chickens as needing to be any more restricted than a dog.”

The Planning Commission was initially advised by Planning Director Pete Dickinson to wait on the issue and include it in the city’s updated comprehensive plan, which is currently in development. Dickinson said this could take up to two years to complete.

After hearing public testimony from community members in support of the change, several commissioners felt it was their duty and within their capabilities to act quickly on the matter.

“I feel pretty frustrated kicking this down the road,” commissioner Scott Vik said. “We need to do something that actually settles this instead of waiting for the comprehensive plan.”

The headline has been updated to reflect that the decision to have chickens as pets was not finalized at the meeting, but will move on to a subcommittee for further evaluation. The names of the two young brothers and their pet chicken has also been updated. The secondary headline has also been updated to reflect that a subcommittee was formed to move forward with the plans.