PASCO — As soon as next week, a split Pasco City Council could consider allowing homeowners to have chickens and rabbits.
About half of the council members voiced support for the change Monday evening, while the other half seemed opposed. The vote could come during next Monday's council meeting.
Chickens are allowed only in Pasco's residential suburban zones but not residential zones, which have a smaller lot size. If the code amendment is approved, chickens and rabbits would be allowed in residential zones as well.
Families then could own up to three chickens in residential zones, with the total number of chickens, rabbits, dogs and cats capped at six for a single family home on a lot 5,000 square feet or larger.
Richland and West Richland include chickens among household pets, while Kennewick allows chickens in residential suburban zones but not other residential zones, unless the property was annexed into the city with the use grandfathered in.
Pasco Mayor Matt Watkins said even though he has received a large number of emails in support of the change, he is concerned it would cost the city more in code enforcement.
But Councilwoman Rebecca Francik said the city already has the mechanism in place to enforce the code.
Code enforcement officers would respond to complaints, just as they respond to noisy dogs now, said Rick White, city community and economic development director.
The code amendment specifically would allow chicken hens, White said. That was changed after council members expressed concern about how a hen could be defined.
Councilman Al Yenney said he supports allowing chickens and rabbits, especially with that revision.
"You can't believe the input that I've had on this," he said.
The city shouldn't micromanage the kinds of animals people can have as long as those animals fit within a certain criteria, Francik said. The city already has decided it's OK for residents to have dogs and cats and has accepted that there will be a certain amount of noise and odor.
A small number of people would be likely to own chickens, Francik said.
"I think we should go forward," Francik said.
Councilman Saul Martinez said that while he loves animals, chickens would be just too hard to control.
Amelia Larson of Pasco, who asked the city for the change, said chickens are no louder than a human talking and, according to her research, 30 percent quieter than dogs.
"It would be such a minimal amount of noise, it would be hard to oppose that compared to a dog," she said.
* Pasco might hire the golf course management company that stepped in to run Sun Willows Golf Course in the interim after the city terminated the lease agreement with decade-long operator Sun Willows Golf Course.
The city ended the lease Feb. 28 because of problems with lack of payment.
CourseCo, the golf firm that manages Richland's Columbia Point and Columbia Park Golf Course in Kennewick, was one of two companies that applied to manage the course, said Rick Terway, the city's administrative and community services director.
CourseCo has done a good job in the interim, and the city has received positive comments about the company from golfers, he said.
City Manager Gary Crutchfield said the city would receive about the same amount as it did by leasing out the course. And it could receive more.
The revenue will come to the city, and the city will have more control than it did by leasing the golf course, Terway said.
* The new public corporation that is tasked with sparking development in downtown Pasco is still searching for an executive director.
Pasco created the development authority in December 2010 to take over revitalization efforts previously led by the volunteer-run Pasco Downtown Development Association.
Mike Miller, the president of the new Downtown Pasco Development Authority, said that after interviewing some candidates, the board will continue to search for an executive director who will fit the authority's needs.
He said he is concerned that the longer it takes to get an executive director, the harder it will be do some of the activities and events the board hopes to hold in the city.
Next week, the council will consider allowing the authority to lease office space at 401 W. Lewis St. and to lease the Pasco Farmers Market and the Pasco Specialty Kitchen. It also will consider budgeting $60,000 from the Industrial Development Infrastructure Fund for the authority for next year.
-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org