Should chickens be allowed in residential districts?

Council considers topic, seeks feedback

By Sheryl Roadcap - [email protected]

SIDNEY — Sidney City Council is interested in Sidney residents’ opinion about the possibility of allowing chickens to be raised in residential districts; the topic was discussed during its Monday evening workshop session.

Community Development Director Barbara Dulworth brought the topic forward for discussion after Evergreen Drive resident Melissa Lozano asked council to consider allowing residents to have chickens in the city for the eggs to feed her children at a March City Council meeting. Dulworth said council directed city staff to conduct research and provide information on the keeping of chickens in residential zoning districts.

Sidney’s zoning code currently does not allow chickens to be kept in residential districts. Dulworth pointed out Sidney’s Codified Ordinance Section 505.14 prohibits the keeping of livestock or fowl within the city limits except at the Shelby County Fairgrounds.

City staff conducted its research by looking at the zoning codes and codified ordinances of other Ohio communities and researching public health issues and agricultural/animal husbandry organization best practices. She said staff reviewed regulations for communities comparable to Sidney as well as a random selection of the communities that Lozano mentioned in her request to City Council. The cities staff researched that Lozano mentioned were Akron, Cincinnati, Mansfield, Medina and Miamisburg, as well as the neighboring communities of Bellefontaine, Dayton, Lima, Piqua and Troy. City staff reviewed their regulations to see if the keeping of chickens in residential districts were allowed, and if so, what regulations were associated.

Dulworth then outlined and broke down the research findings of those cities, which included each city’s required setbacks, number of chickens allowed per lot, coop/cage requirements and whether roosters are allowed.

Miamisburg and Troy zoning codes are silent on the matter of chickens, Dulworth said, but both communities state elsewhere in their codified ordinances that chickens are not allowed in residential districts and that they are considered nuisances.

With the findings that showed the communities which allow the keeping of chickens require larger lots, city staff conducted a Geographic Information System (GIS) analysis to determine how many residential properties exist in Sidney that are larger than 2 acres and have dimensions which would allow for setbacks over 100 feet. City staff’s results are as follows:

• 366 parcels in Sidney are 2 acres or larger.

• Only 5.7% (or 21 parcels) are classified as single-family dwellings.

• The smallest residential parcel is 2 acres; the largest residential parcel is 6.38 acres.

City staff also compiled a pros and cons list for keeping chickens in residential districts. Dulworth’s report showed the following pros of keeping chickens:

• Can provide food in the form of fresh eggs.

• Can provide personal entertainment for individuals; “therapy” for others.

• Can provide educational opportunities to family members, neighbors and friends.

• Can provide insect control for backyards.

• Can provide free fertilizer for the property owner.

The cons of keeping chickens include the following:

• Noisy to surrounding neighbors.

• Waste produces offensive and unpleasant odors.

• Increased exposure to uncommon pathogens (avian flu).

• Increased risk of developing respiratory issues due to the dust and dander they produce.

• Can attract predators and rodents to surrounding properties.

• Can attract parasites such as lice, mites and ticks.

• Can be a safety hazard to children, neighbors and other pets.

• Only produce eggs for two to three years, afterwards they become “dormant” for the rest of their lives, where as chickens can live up to 10 years.

• Violate various subdivision covenants in Sidney, such as Plum Ridge, Winsor Parke, Eagle Glen).

After some brief discussion, and a call on members for their thoughts on the matter, it was fairly split with half of the members either saying they don’t believe chickens should be allowed in residential districts, and the other half saying they would like to hear what Sidney residents think about the issue. Although Council members Steven Klinger and Jenny VanMatre leaned toward a “no” on the topic, and Council member Mike Barhorst as a hard “no,” Klinger and VanMatre were open to hearing more information on the how residents feel before voting against it. Mayor Mardie Milligan did not vote one way or the other, and said she would not be a tie breaker on the issue.

In the end, the consensus of council was to listen to feedback on residents’ opinions, and share what they each heard about the possibility of allowing chickens to kept in residential districts before the issue returns for continued consideration at a future meeting.

Council considers topic, seeks feedback

By Sheryl Roadcap

[email protected]