Mary Hathaway speaks to Deer Park City Council with an entire room of supporters.
Chickens on residential land are a growing subject of debate. With food costs driven up by inflation, many are looking for ways to eat healthily and save money.
Mary Hathaway stood up to address the ownership of chickens within Deer Park city limits. There had been flyers posted around town and posts on social media to gather support for the meeting held on July 20th. The room was packed with some people standing in the halls that wanted to be a part of this discussion and hear the response of council members along with city staff. Mayor Tim Verzal has asked Mary Hathaway to represent the group in favor of chickens; she accepted the role with the support of those in attendance who thought it was an eggs-cellent idea.
Earlier this year, Council Member Caleb Stapp had the issue on the official agenda with proposed changes to allow chickens. However, at that meeting, no one else showed up to support raising chickens. Some residents currently raising poultry on their property said they were concerned about retribution from the city if they attended the meeting. Many people didn’t even know about the law until it was too late. For example, Nick Richardson learned of the fowl ban when the city threatened to fine him $500 per day while the birds were still on his land.
Recently, a Facebook group has hatched an effort to change the laws in Deer Park. You can join the group using the following short link: DPGazette.com/backyardfarmers
Council Member “Dee” Cragun spoke against allowing chickens “…if you’re struggling to eat, go down to the food bank, there’s food readily available down there, nobody’s going to go hungry.”
The restrictions preventing backyard chickens result from city zoning rules, the city ordinance, and in some places, the Home Owners Association (HOA). Because of Washington State law, some documents that need to be updated will take a fair amount of time. City staff estimates it could take one to two years to complete the process and cost the city thousands of dollars. Part of the issue is Deer Park residents are legally prevented from selling fruits, vegetables, or eggs if grown outside.
With the growing concern about the supply chain and the desire for a more healthy and self-sustainable lifestyle, this issue is one that will keep coming to the city council’s attention.