Oak Creek Town Board allows family to keep 3 hens | SteamboatToday.com

Oak Creek Town Board allows family to keep 3 hens

Zach Fridell

Oak Creek residents and chicken owners Ann and Walt Trout requested a variance from the Oak Creek Town Board on Thursday night that would allow them to keep the farm animals at their home.

— The Oak Creek Town Board gave three chickens a reprieve Thursday night, at least until Thanksgiving.

The town's trustees granted residents Ann and Walt Trout permission to keep their fowl until a formal ordinance change can be crafted to allow live chickens to be kept in town on a limited basis.

At Thursday's Town Board meeting, the Trouts provided pictures of their mobile chicken coop, which is kept in their garage, as well as the vegetables they grow with help from compost from the chicken manure.

Mayor J. Elliott and other trustees complimented the Trouts on the cleanliness and professional nature of the chicken coop, but they expressed concern about setting a precedent for allowing other livestock to be kept within town limits.

The town municipal code forbids any livestock from being kept within town limits, but the Trouts have owned their chickens for about 18 months, and turkeys before that.

Trustee Josh Voorhis said he knows of at least three other poultry owners in town. Ann Trout said she didn't know it was illegal because her neighbor had a rooster when she first moved to Oak Creek.

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Trustee Chuck Wisecup said he researched the way other towns handle allowing poultry within city limits.

Many cities and towns, from San Jose, Calif., to Kremmling, allow the birds within strict guidelines, including limits on the number of fowl, the space allowed per bird, the distance from adjoining property and a near-universal ban on roosters.

Wisecup suggested creating a temporary provision to allow chickens within town limits on a case-by-case basis for one year, but Voorhis said he thinks there has been enough time to test having birds in town.

"I guess we've already had a test run since before I've been in town," he said.

The board ended the discussion by allowing the Trouts to continue to keep their birds until the board decides on a permanent ordinance at a future meeting, likely its Dec. 10 gathering.

A straw poll of the trustees indicated they all were in favor of allowing the chickens with some sort of guidelines. Only the Trouts were covered with the temporary allowance.

New trustee named

Also Thursday night, the Town Board voted to make Dawn Smith the replacement trustee for Dave Fisher, who resigned his position via e-mail last month.

Smith, an animal safety deputy with the Routt County Sheriff's Office, was selected from a pool of three candidates.

Smith has lived in Oak Creek for nearly two years and will have to run for re-election in April.

In her letter of intent to the board, Smith wrote that she has been working in law enforcement for five years and has experience in grant writing, diffusing conflict, writing reports and documentation.

"I believe my ability to handle tense situations and validate all parties would also be an asset to the Town Board," she wrote.

Officer offered job

After interviewing its top four candidates, the Town Board voted unanimously Thursday to offer its police officer position to Lance Dunaway, of Walden. The job offer is contingent upon Dunaway passing several tests.

Wisecup, who conducted the interviews with Elliott and representatives from the Steamboat Springs Police Department and Routt County Sheriff's Office, said Dunaway will be offered the job if he passes a second, informal interview, a psychological test, a polygraph test and a background check.

He then will be placed on a provisional contract as he completes an abbreviated training with the Sheriff's Office and with the town's code enforcement officer.

Wisecup said Dunaway worked for six years in Glenwood, including experience as a school resource officer. He took time off to take care of the family farm but will be able to start working as Oak Creek's sole police officer in about four weeks.

Members of the town's previous police force resigned amid controversy last year. Dunaway did not attend Thursday's meeting, and Wisecup said his second interview and tests have not been scheduled.

Town considers water tank

Oak Creek soon may have a 1-million-gallon water tank if everything goes smoothly with a $400,000 grant.

Public Works Director Bob Redding said the town might be able to buy the used water tank from the city of Greenwood.

That tank, which is 120 feet tall, could be cut down to create a 400,000 gallon tank, and the scrap could be sold to help fund the project, Redding said.

The town does not have any money committed to the project, but if the costs exceed $400,000, the town will be required to pay or find additional grant money.

The public hearing was required as part of the Com­munity Development Block Grant process, and the board was not required to take any action or make any formal decisions.

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