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Foul vs. fowl issue not settled in Coulee Dam


The chicken issue was a wash, but the need for a code enforcement officer gained momentum at the council session in Coulee Dam last Wednesday.

The proposed “four hen” ordinance to allow keeping chickens in town made it through the first reading when Mayor Greg Wilder broke a 2-2 council tie vote.

The chambers were crowded with about 30 folks attending, all anxious to see how the chicken issue would be resolved.

There were the “fowl” folks and the “foul” folks, about equally divided.

But as discussions expanded it became pretty clear that the sticking issue was the lack of code enforcement in the town.

The argument went like this: Who is going to enforce a chicken ordinance when the town doesn’t enforce its nuisance ordinance on weeds, dogs and cats?

Mayor Wilder was quick to admit that enforcement was a problem. He stated that the town would soon be working on next year’s budget, and a code enforcement person would be considered. That was met with approval by those attending.

The town council will bring up the chicken issue again at its Aug. 12 meeting.

Wilder said that in the meantime there would be time to amend the ordinance to satisfy some of the good suggestions that came from the audience, and he stated that some townspeople could help in reshaping the ordinance in time for its second reading Aug. 12.

The code enforcer was the top issue, but people wanted to see the ordinance state that any chicken pens had to be several feet away from neighbor’s property lines.

Both Electric City and Grand Coulee now have a code enforcer. Grand Coulee just voted to hire one to satisfy some of the community complaints its council has been hearing.

At the Coulee Dam meeting, residents spoke out against people having too many cats and dogs, many of them unlicensed and running loose, and the town not doing anything about it. One person said he couldn’t see police officers checking on chickens.

When the issue came up for a council vote, council members Ken Miles and Duane Johnson wanted to table the matter, while members Gayle Swagerty and Shawn Derrick wanted to pass the first reading and fix some parts of the language later. Councilmember Ben Alling was not at the meeting. The mayor broke the tie to move the ordinance forward.

But the chicken issue will be visited again in August.

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