The City of Powell’s planning and zoning commission voted unanimously in October on an ordinance that could allow residents to raise chickens in their backyards. However, Powell city council may put the brakes on the ordinance by voting it down this coming Tuesday night.
“I want to ask if I can have chickens in my backyard so I can learn to raise them,” Carter said.
Council did not vote at that time, but instead asked staff to further investigate the matter and moved for a second reading at the next session on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
After the meeting Maggie said she was unsure how the vote would go at the second reading.
“I don’t know because that guy was saying things about diseases and stuff,” she said. “I’m not sure.”
The latest trend in municipalities such as Columbus and Bexley is allowing residents to raise chickens in corporation limits. Powell’s zoning board said they modeled their ordinance after Bexley’s.
Amy Jennings, Bexley animal control officer, said about 20 permits are on file for 16 to 18 chickens. She said the permit is free, and to-date there has only been a single incident involving a chicken.
“One escaped, but the owner fixed the fence and clipped its wings,” she said. “It’s going well and there’s not been any other issues.”
Jennings said the most chickens anyone owns in Bexley is three. “Residents are only allowed five pets per household,” she said. “It can be in any combination.”
Jennings gave an example of two dogs, a cat and a couple of hens which totals five. “Bexley doesn’t allow roosters and once one is discovered it has to be re-homed,” she said.
Jennings said once chickens are old enough to occupy a coop she goes out and inspects it. If all conditions are met, the chickens may occupy the coop.
“To be fair to the chickens most people, just like with dogs, keep their yard pet-friendly. They don’t use chemicals that would endanger the chickens,” she said.
Jennings said the city hasn’t had any complaints about noise or smell.
“There hasn’t been any complaints about smells from droppings,” she said. “Most people compost the droppings.”
Leah Lackey of Delaware said she once raised chickens in the North Linden area of Columbus.
“It was really fun having chickens,” Lackey said. “They’re really low-maintenance.”
Lackey said her family lived on a quarter-acre lot that had a fenced-in backyard so the chickens could run.
“We would put them in the coop at night,” she said. “The only predators were cats and hawks that hang out by the fence, but nothing ever attacked.”
Jose Rodriguez, spokesperson for Columbus Public Health, said the city recently updated its ordinance clarifying rules.
“The urban environment has changed,” Rodriguez said. “I think we’re very happy with the choice we’ve made.”
Rodriguez added, “It’s good for people; we just want to protect against disease.”
Rebecca Lyon runs City Folk’s Farm Shop in Columbus which caters to the city-farm lifestyle. She said there is only one area in Columbus that doesn’t allow chickens. “Upper Arlington outlawed raising chickens,”she said.
Lyon said Columbus neighbors are close together and noisy pets are irritating.
“I find a dog barking more irritating than a hen’s clucking when laying,” she said. “It’s actually really relaxing to watch them forage around in the yard eating insects.”
Lyon said chicken manure smells only become a problem if it’s not managed. “If they’re going out there everyday to get eggs they’re going to manage it,” she said. “People are thinking of factory farms.”
Officials from the Ohio State University’s extension office in Delaware County said raising chickens teaches responsibility.
“By having to raise a chicken a person learns responsibility,” said Laryssa Hook, OSU extension office educator. “They have the same enjoyment as having a dog or a cat.”
Officials said, disease isn’t a problem if the chickens are managed correctly, “If the owner has a good health management plan there is little risk of disease,” said Jacci Smith of the OSU extension office.
Smith and Hook agree the county is full of predators, but said there is already plenty of food in the wild for them. They suggested purchasing coops that keep chickens safe from predators.
Lee Yoakum, spokesperson for the City of Delaware said the city updated and clarified existing ordinances in April of 2012 granting an exemption to members of 4-H and other agricultural groups.
“We worked with Laryssa Hook at the local OSU extension office to include an exemption for those participating in competitions such as county fair and 4-H or other sanctioned … events or shows,” Yoakum said.
Delaware’s ordinance states; “A ‘Temporary Use Permit’ may be issued for the outdoor keeping of certain small animals related to state-approved agricultural society shows and competitions as defined … in the single-family residential zoning districts … as well as on lots whose principal use is a single family dwelling.”
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.