Tumwater family fined $10,000 for having a rooster on their farm
A family in Tumwater was fined $10,000 because of their rooster. Mike Johnson, the patriarch of that family, told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show he doesn’t know exactly who put in the complaint to the city, but he believes it’s one of the houses in a nearby subdivision.
“I have 2.5 acres, so to give you an idea, I’ve got a lot of space,” he said. “My neighbors really aren’t all that close to me. But we have a subdivision called The Preserve, built by Century Homes, and so there are approximately 10 houses in the space of about an acre.”
“That’s the density you’re looking at next to our property,” Johnson explained. “I’m fairly certain it was one of those folks just because I think they moved there to buy a home, but they don’t want a whole lot of property.”
On Johnson’s farm, he says they have goats, chickens, roosters, bunnies, and they host a local artisanal market at their farm once a month, which is permitted by the city of Tumwater.
“Our house and our farm has been here since 1963, although obviously I haven’t owned since then,” Johnson said, but the subdivision has been there for five years or less.
“The previous owners of this house had chickens and horses as well as goats,” he added. “So for the past 10 to 15 years, this property has continuously had more or less the same animals we have. Even though I haven’t lived here — I’ve only lived here a year and a half.”
For that reason, he says the buyers of the houses should have known there was a farm nearby.
“This has been a farm that’s continuously had livestock on it, to include roosters,” he said. “And our neighbors have had roosters as well. … This is not a new issue.”
Tumwater law, Johnson explained, previously allowed livestock, chickens, goats, “and everything else,” except no roosters. That law was written in 2015. As of March 2021, he says they have rewritten the codes to be even more restrictive, to the point where even his goats are now out of compliance.
Johnson’s long-term goal, he says, is to change the codes.
“So as of right now, they have codes on the books that allow for certain agricultural activities within the city, as long as you have a property of at least two acres. Since we have 2.5 acres, we fall into that,” he said. “What I’m going to do is I’m going to continue to petition the council and hopefully garner some legal aid to help me in this and get the laws changed so that any farm of at least two acres can have non-hazardous livestock, we’ll call it, so anything that’s not actively going to go out and like stop traffic.”
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