Lima committee: No chickens allowed

By Lance Mihm

July 28, 2014

LIMA — The issue of owning chickens within Lima’s city limits died in committee Monday due to not having enough support.

The issue was first raised in June to the Neighborhood Concerns Committee. More than 30 people attended the June meeting, holding petitions from elected representatives, facts about chickens and raising them, and the benefit to families being allowed to have them. However, the committee of Sam McLean, Ann Miles and Jesse Lowe II said the issue didn’t have the support.

The committee reported that city administrators were heavily against the potential move.

“If they are against it, there isn’t any point in going forward,” said committee chair Miles. “We need them to be on board for this to happen.”

Miles added that an already overtaxed staff did not have the time to enforce codes. She said that the committee had heard nothing but negative comments from city administration on the issue of allowing chickens.

Lowe added that he based his decision solely on feedback from his constituents.

“The majority are saying no,” Lowe said. “They are concerned about disease. At the end of the day, people do not want to come home and smell chicken poop, or hear chickens, they don’t want chicken anything.”

The movement started largely behind the actions of two children, 8-year-old Tillie Nelson and 10-year-old Elsbeth Nelson, and their mother, Nicole Nelson. The trio presented plenty of information, including the noise level of chickens, that six chickens only require about 20 square feet of space, and that the three major cities in Ohio, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, permit chickens to be raised within their corporation limits

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.

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.

Several residents attended the meeting and briefly spoke on the issue before the committee voted down presenting the legislation to City Council. Resident Jesse Brown said the committee should also consider people’s rights.

“There is no rational in this decision,” Brown said. “What a majority of what people think shouldn’t be the only thing. There should be a litmus test. This isn’t harmful to the community.”

However, the committee was unwilling to budge.

“You hit that point where people just don’t want it,” McLean said. “I like change, but some people are just set in their ways.”

The committee agreed that a lot of the problem was educating the public on the issue, and agreed that they had learned a lot and complimented the children on the information they had provided the committee.