Tuesday | November 21, 2017
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Council takes up chicken-and-egg debate

HILO — It’s a chicken and egg debate: Should people in residential districts be allowed to raise a few chickens for fresh eggs?

The County Council Planning Committee will consider the issue Tuesday, when it looks at Bill 872, sponsored by Hilo Councilman Donald Ikeda. The measure would allow up to four hens, as long as they are caged, no roosters are kept, the enclosures comply with building codes and are not within lot setbacks and there are no homeowner association or deed covenants prohibiting them.

Ikeda said his bill has a twofold purpose. The measure would encourage county goals of food self-sufficiency, and it would give the county more power to deal with current problems of residents allowing free-ranging chickens on their property, upsetting the neighbors.

“Planning has a problem with enforcement when people have a lot of chickens running around and pooping all over the place and making a lot of noise,” Ikeda said.

The Planning Commission meets at 10:45 a.m. Tuesday at the West Hawaii Civic Center, with videoconferencing from the Hilo council chambers and the Waimea and Pahoa council offices. Ikeda said he expects natural and organic farmers to be at the meeting to discuss ways of keeping chickens in coops that reduce or eliminate odors.

“We keep hearing about food sustainability, so here’s a chance to put up or shut up,” Ikeda said.

In other council business at 9 a.m. Tuesday, the council’s Committee on Agriculture, Water and Energy Sustainability will consider a resolution by Ka‘u Councilwoman Brittany Smart asking the legislative auditor to audit the Department of Water Supply’s process of awarding 10 water access meters at the Ocean View water spigot site.

The well and water system were installed in Ocean View using $6.4 million in state and county funds. The Department of Water Supply advertised the meters on a first-come, first-served basis for a $532 fee.

Ocean View residents, however, say that the available meters were taken up primarily by individuals, with only one water hauling company actually awarded a meter. That has resulted in what they see as a monopolization of the water, said Smart.

“Now that we have this new system, the prices aren’t going down and the residents expected them to,” Smart said. “Because that’s not the case, people are really upset.”

Smart said she’s not implying that the Water Department did anything wrong, but she wants an audit conducted to help put residents’ minds at ease and see if the award process can be improved.

Water Department spokeswoman Kanani Aton Keliikoa said department officials attended a community meeting where the issue came up, so the department is aware of the audit request. She said the department is cooperating.

“We’re ready to work with her and with the legislative auditor to look at the process and take it from there,” Keliikoa said.