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Chicken ordinance dead for now in Grandview

Source: Columbus Local News
Date: August 17, 2009
Byline: Donavon Campbell

The chicken may have crossed the road somewhere, but it likely will be some time before it will do so into Grandview Heights.

Following the withdrawal of an ordinance during a July 29 Safety Committee meeting that would have permitted residents to keep chickens in Grandview, City Council members are giving no time frame as to when the issue will be reconsidered.

The ordinance originally was brought before council by Grandview Heights High School sophomore Andy Smigelski at a March 2 meeting, during which he said he wanted to be able to keep hens as pets and reap the benefits of fresh eggs.

After being tabled a handful of times, the ordinance was scheduled to go up for a vote at the Aug. 3 council meeting.

Council member Elizabeth Koelker, who sponsored the legislation, is the one who ultimately removed it.

In the end, the original ordinance just didn't seem like a good fit for the community, Koelker said.

"The ordinance ... just doesn't address community concerns on either side of the issue," she said. "It made more sense to withdraw it and do some additional research."

According to city code, "No person shall keep or maintain any horse, cattle, swine, sheep, poultry or other livestock within the city."

The original draft ordinance allowed for up to four hens and included a number of requirements for coop size and placement.

Concerns were raised, however, due to the complicated nature of the legislation, which some said may have led to difficulty in enforcement. The requirement to have neighbors approve of a resident's request to own chickens and some of the physical requirements for coop placement that did not fit the urban environment of the community also were cited as concerns.

Koelker submitted a new draft of a less-complicated ordinance designed to address some of those concerns, but said the new legislation is not currently up for official consideration.

"It is what I would consider a better starting place," Koelker said.

She added that she will seek the advice of the Ohio State University agricultural department as well as attempt to address more resident concerns before she would bring something back to the table.

"And after that, if it turns out to be a good idea, then we'll bring it forward and see what everybody else thinks," Koelker said.

Fellow council and Safety Committee member Steven Von Jasinski, who has said he opposes the idea of keeping chickens in the city, explained that any new ordinance would have to go through all the appropriate steps before coming to a vote.

Von Jasinski said he was ready to vote on the issue, and that he was disappointed it was withdrawn.

"I am opposed, personally, to the concept" of allowing chickens to be kept in the city, said Von Jasinski, adding that he was afraid it could open up the city to unforeseen consequences.

"Once we start making exceptions, at what point do you step over the line?" Von Jasinski said. "Once you make exceptions to the rule, it's much harder to say no to the next request."