Citizens push for allowing chickens


First Posted: 6/2/2014

LIMA — Several people addressed the Lima City Council Neighborhood Concerns Committee about the possibility of allowing chickens within the corporation limit of the city.

About 30 people turned out for the committee meeting after the committee chaired by C. Ann Miles was given the task of evaluating the situation after several residents inquired about a change in the law.

Lima Law Director Tony Geiger said current city law prohibits city residents from possessing farm animals unless they have a minimum of two acres of land. The ordinance, which went into effect in 1991, covers farm animals, wild animals or fowl, which includes chickens, ducks, geese, roosters, turkeys and pheasants. The current standard was left in place when the Safety Services Committee made changes referring to vicious dog legislation. Geiger added that changes still could be made if the council desired.

Growing a vegetable garden, hanging out laundry, and raising chickens within the city limits can conjure up images of the poor, according to a nationwide survey, but Leslie Rigali addressed the committee and said many of the claims are myths.

“Today, 65 percent of the largest cities in the United States allow chickens,” Rigali said. “We are asking for something that has already been proven.”

Rigali had petitions from several city councilors, mayors and code enforcement personnel from across the country that said allowing chickens had not caused problems in their communities. She said that many people in Lima already have chickens that their neighbors are not aware of. She added that many people want to control their own food sources and that biologists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have indicated that chickens do not cause communicable diseases.

“In 1942, the city actually gave away chickens to help with food,” Rigali said.

Nicole Nelson and her daughters, 8-year-old Tillie Nelson and 10-year-old Elsbeth Nelson, also addressed the council as proponents to allow the move.

“We found out there are more than 500 cities that allow them,” Nicole Nelson said. “I work in Sidney and I just found out they allow them.”

Tillie mentioned other information, such as chickens were not as loud as some might think. Elsbeth said six chickens only require about 20 square feet of space.

The group calling for the move also said other criteria could be put in place, such as limiting the number of chickens per residence or not allowing roosters if noise were a concern.

The three major cities in Ohio, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, permit chickens to be raised within their corporation limits, Rigali said.

Councilwoman Teresa Adams addressed the committee and said she had concerns about the space. She said the average parcel size in Lima had a 50-foot frontage and went 100 feet deep, or 5,000 square feet. She said that would be reducing the size from the current requirement of one acre, which is 43,560 square feet.

“My concern is there has to be things in place for neighbors to protect their investment.”

Councilman Jesse Lowe said he understood the claims of the supporters but that he was getting a different reaction from residents.

“Two and a half years ago this issue came up and neighbors threw a fit,” Lowe said. “I am not for the change. We designed it for a reason. You can be as clean as clean can be but things happen.”

Councilman Sam McLean said he would have to be convinced 51 percent of the city population were in favor of the move.

Miles said she was prepared to say she was for the change at this point, but said she was open to researching it further and what the merits would be of the possible change.

Tillie said they got the idea of getting chickens after visiting a friend of their mother's home. Elsbeth said she felt encouraged after the meeting about the chances of being allowed to have chickens.