Fowl battle brewing in Sheridan over urban chickens - KPTV - FOX 12

Fowl battle brewing in Sheridan over urban chickens

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The DeWitt's backyard chicken coop in Sheridan. The DeWitt's backyard chicken coop in Sheridan.
SHERIDAN, OR (KPTV) -

A fowl battle is brewing in Sheridan after a husband and wife were told to get rid of their chickens. But Andrew and Stephanie DeWitt believe they shouldn't have to.

When the DeWitt's decided to get chickens a few years ago, they say they checked city code to make sure they were allowed within city limits.

All they found was one ordinance, under code 8.12.110, saying: “No person shall maintain a pigsty, slaughterhouse or tannery, or permit livestock or poultry owned by him or her to run at large within the city.”

Since their chickens would be kept in a backyard coop, they figured they were fine.

But that changed when the DeWitt's say a neighbor recently complained. Now, they say, the city is telling them they're breaking the law.

“We didn't believe we were and they believe we are,” Andrew DeWitt said. “It's just a misunderstanding of the ordinance.”

As it turns out, there's another ordinance on the books for the City of Sheridan banning urban chickens altogether. Under code 16.203.120, it says: “The breeding, raising, boarding or selling of horses, donkeys, mules, cows, bulls, sheep, pigs, goats, rabbits, fowl, emus, bees or other animals for domestic or commercial purposes shall be prohibited.”

City Manager Frank Sheridan filed paperwork in April formally declaring the DeWitt's home a nuisance in light of the code violation.

“There are many, many homes within Sheridan that have chickens and it's never been enforced for years,” Stephanie DeWitt said.

The DeWitts received a “notice and order to abate nuisance,” but filed an appeal. They say it was rejected by city councilors Monday.

“I let them know in city council that I wasn't going to remove the chickens,” Stephanie added. “So I'm waiting for their next step.”

The DeWitt's call the two ordinances on the city books competing and confusing, and say whatever the law, it needs to be enforced fairly.

“Those [ordinances] need to be addressed before I believe that what we're doing is wrong,” she added. “Things that are wholesome like having chickens and growing your own food should be encouraged.”

Fox 12 reached out to City Manager Frank Sheridan Tuesday, but did not hear back.

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