Chicken is back on the agenda but not the menu in Streetsboro

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Urban chickens would be legal in Streetsboro under a new ordinance moving through city council, which heard the first of three required readers before the proposal becomes law.

Residents who live in single-family detached homes in various urban and rural zoning districts would be able to keep up to six hens. The districts included in the legislation are:

  • Low- or medium-density urban residential
  • Multi-family urban residential
  • Transitional residential
  • Open space conservation
  • Rural residential
  • Public or private school property

Schools are included so they can develop agrarian programs if they choose, Council Member Justin Ring said.

The new ordinance ties up some unresolved threads of an ongoing public policy debate in Streetsboro about where residents can keep birds and under what conditions. In July, council voted to ease restrictions in rural areas but left the question of urban chickens as unfinished business.

Council members are expected to hear the ordinance’s second reading on Oct. 25. A public hearing is set for Nov. 8, after which council will hear the third and final reading. Barring objections that would send the legislation back to the committee level, backyard chickens would be OK as of that date.

The latest proposal specifically outlaws roosters and chicks less than six months old, along with other fowl, such as ducks, quail, geese or turkeys.

While no lot sizes are specified, the birds would have to be kept in a coop sited at least 20 feet from the rear property line, at least 10 feet from the side property line, and at least 20 feet from the home. Neither the coop nor the run could be located between the rear wall of the home and the required front yard setback line.

The setback requirements are meant to address concerns about odor, noise and flies, any or all of which can be annoying or even harmful to the owner and nearby neighbors, Ring said.

Only one coop would be permitted per lot, with each bird allotted at least two square feet of coop space and 10 square feet of run area. Under the terms of the proposal, the maximum coop size would be 100 square feet, and the highest point of the coop roof limited to seven feet. The birds would also have to be enclosed in their coop from dusk till dawn

Screening, either fencing or evergreens, would have to be in place so the birds would not be able to be seen from the street.

Owners would be responsible for keeping their flocks healthy and for keeping their yards free of waste. Each owner would also have to apply for a permit, specifying the location of the coop, run, fencing, evergreens (firs, pines and spruces), height and area dimensions, and any other relevant information.

Owners would not be able to sell or barter eggs, breed fowl or sell waste as fertilizer. On-site slaughtering is out of the question, as is selling live birds or chicken meat.

Ring said the proposed ordinance is modeled on Kent’s chicken ordinance, though revised to fit Streetsboro’s needs.

(Kent’s chicken ordinance, while similar to the proposed legislation in Streetsboro, stipulates a 30-foot setback from the rear property line and 10 feet from the side property line.)

Also, residents who live in neighborhoods governed by HOAs would be subject to the terms of those agreements, he said.

Council Member Julie Field objected to the plan at a council meeting this past summer, saying the side setbacks were too small. She advocated specifying a minimum lot size to 0.7 acres, but Ring said that was the exact problem with a previous suggested ordinance, which would have applied only to a few residents.

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Wendy DiAlesandro is a former Record Publishing Co. reporter and contributing writer for The Portager.