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Fowl law on hold till July

Medford chicken owners got a reprieve Thursday night after the City Council put off enforcing a new ordinance for six months that would limit backyards to six fowl.

The council expressed a willingness to look at allowing more chickens in some backyards, depending on the size of the lot and setbacks.

"At what point do we stop putting our fingers in people's business," Councilor Tim D'Alessandro said.

D'Alessandro eventually supported the extension of the enforcement date from Jan. 1, 2018, to July 1, 2018.

The "no" votes were from councilors Kay Brooks and Tim Jackle, but the ordinance passed on a 5-2 vote, which requires a second reading.

D'Alessandro said the ordinance was crafted after one resident complained about her neighbors' chickens on Cherry Lane in east Medford.

"I'm kind of tired of wasting a bunch of time," he said.

Regina Davis, who had received a complaint about the chickens on her 2-acre Cherry Lane property, said most of her neighbors are just fine with her 15 chickens, but one neighbor has complained often about her coops.

Brooks said she also complained about chickens in her west Medford neighborhood but thought code enforcement had resolved the issue effectively.

"Keeping it as a complaint-driven system is fine," she said.

Councilor Kim Wallan said she wasn't satisfied with the ordinance and thought the council should reconsider it at a later date.

"We've got six months to consider lot sizes and setbacks," she said.

In November, the council decided to not enforce a new in-city law limiting backyards to six chickens after an outpouring of opposition from chicken lovers. Previously the city didn't have an ordinance limiting the number of chickens.

Some 50 residents told the council at the time that the six-chicken limit was based mostly on the Cherry Lane complaint.

Other councilors thought the extension of the ordinance would give them time to reconsider it, particularly to allow some flexibility for residents who wanted to have enough chickens to lay eggs to feed their families.

"July 1 is better than Jan. 1," Councilor Kevin Stine said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm