With the clock winding down on her efforts to keep her pet chickens, Ashley Hicks has taken what may possibly be her last chance: appealing to the very city council that she had an often testy relationship with during her four-year tenure.
Hicks emailed her final appeal to the council late Wednesday afternoon, just a day before the deadline. In her email, Hicks laid out the case for why she should be allowed to keep her pet chickens, while also taking some parting shots at City Manager Nikki Messenger, Police Chief Gary Klopfenstein and the City Council itself.
“This is important to me. I never had chickens or ducks growing up,” Hicks wrote in the email. “I’ve lived inside city limits all my life. I always wanted to learn how to properly keep, and care for them. I have done that. I spend a lot of money, time and effort to keep my chickens; healthy, clean, happy, their environment clean and sanitary and open for inspections.”
Hicks lives on Southeast Flint Street, a few blocks west of downtown Roseburg. Last summer, she got a permit to keep pet chickens and ducks. She went door-to-door to get the two dozen signatures of neighbors that were needed and paid the $50 permit fee.
However, Hicks said that in September a dog owned by her neighbor attacked one of her hens. Later another dog owned by the neighbor attacked and killed one of Hicks’ ducks. Hicks said her neighbor’s dogs have killed or injured more of her ducks and chickens, including as recently as last week.
That neighbor and another adjacent property owner sent letters to the city asking that Hicks’ permit for the chickens be revoked. According to city codes, that was enough to have the permit revoked, which Klopfenstein did in March. Hicks appealed that decision to Messenger, who on April 26, notified Hicks that her appeal was denied.
Hicks then had until Thursday to appeal to the City Council, which she did Wednesday via email. In that email, Hicks said she was being unfairly penalized because her neighbor could not control her dogs. She also said she could “hardly believe” that Klopfenstein would take the time to ask the second property owner to write the letter seeking the permit revocation then drive out to her home in Umpqua to pick it up, a distance of about 50 miles round trip.
“An embarrassing and gross waste of citizens tax dollars, and police resources,” Hicks said.
She also said that it was unfair to have Messenger decide her appeal, considering their history — Messenger gave notice she intended to sue the city in large part based on comments Hicks had made about it, and Hicks had filed a complaint against Messenger, accusing her of violating her contract by not living within city limits.
Hicks also said she believes Messenger, Klopfenstein and some on the City Council are “out to get me.”
She also explained why she needs the pet chickens:
“The city manager and police chief may not give a damn about my mental health but I do. I will not be embarrassed or ashamed to admit when I need help. I won’t give in to anxiety and depression and allow it to keep me in bed with my head under the covers. I will fight for me, I will do what’s best for me to take care of me. I will not apologize to anyone for that. These chickens bring me joy, slow my heart rate, allow me to relax and feel calm. These chickens provide me mundane tasks in caring for them, giving me a purpose to be at home excessively through 400+ days and counting living in hell created by this COVID-19 pandemic.”
Hicks ended the email by thanking the City Council for serving the citizens in what is often a “difficult-thankless job.”
A date has not yet been set for the City Council to hear Hicks’ final appeal.