Chicken reg­u­la­tions un­pop­u­lar with some in Ohio town­ship

Amend­ment also sets stan­dards for coop struc­tures.

Dayton Daily News - - LOCAL & STATE - By Jody Miller

BATH TWP. (SUM­MIT

What came first, COUNTY) — the chicken or the egg has taken on new mean­ing in the town­ship, es­pe­cially when the role of the rooster is in­cluded.

Trus­tees re­cently ap­proved a zon­ing code amend­ment reg­u­lat­ing the keep­ing of chick­ens and pro­hibit­ing roost­ers on prop­er­ties un­der five acres. The change, which does not sit well with some in the town­ship, was prompted by pro­posed state leg­is­la­tion that would reg­u­late the keep­ing of chick­ens for com­mu­ni­ties that do not have reg­u­la­tions in place.

While the state pro­posal would per­mit 20 chick­ens per acre, Bath’s zon­ing amend­ment lim­its the num­ber of chick­ens per house­hold to none for prop­er­ties un­der one-third acre; three chick­ens on prop­er­ties that are one-third to a half acre, five chick­ens for half-acre to an acre and 10 birds for 1 acre to 5 acres. Prop­er­ties above 5 acres are con­sid­ered agri­cul­tural districts and ex­empt from the reg­u­la­tion.

The amend­ment came after months of dis­cus­sions and pub­lic meet­ings.

“The leg­is­la­tion was adopted as a way to bal­ance the town­ship’s in­ter­est in al­low­ing res­i­dents to own and main­tain chick­ens for their own per­sonal use through cur­rent town­ship leg­is­la­tion, with­out fall­ing un­der the more ex­pan­sive pro­vi­sions of the state code,” said Bath Ad­min­is­tra­tor Vito Si­nop­oli.

“Times are chang­ing, and peo­ple are look­ing at own­ing chick­ens to have their own eggs,” Bill Funk, Bath plan­ning di­rec­tor/zon­ing in­spec­tor, said. “We wanted to ac­com­mo­date those peo­ple.”

The amend­ment also sets stan­dards for chicken-coop struc­tures, chicken runs, dis­posal of ma­nure and waste as well as nui­sance is­sues. The most con­tested part of the amend­ment was the sec­tion pro­hibit­ing roost­ers

“The nui­sance as­pect of roost­ers was an im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion in both the town­ship’s res­o­lu­tion and the state code and for that rea­son un­der both pieces of leg­is­la­tion, roost­ers are pro­hib­ited [on prop­er­ties un­der 5 acres],” Si­nop­oli said.

That doesn’t mean the sky is fall­ing with the ban on roost­ers, Funk said, adding that there have been no com­plaints about crow­ing roost­ers.

“The zon­ing res­o­lu­tion is a work­ing doc­u­ment, and if we see some­thing that needs to be changed, the zon­ing com­mis­sion can re­view it,” Funk said, adding that that in­cludes deal­ing with the rooster pro­hi­bi­tion.

“If you are com­ply­ing with the per­mit­ted num­bers, then the roost­ers would be grand­fa­thered,” he said. “If, for ex­am­ple that rooster dies or is killed, you can ap­peal to the BZA [board of zon­ing ap­peals] as a non­con­form­ing use for a vari­ance to re­place it.”

As those keep­ing chicken know, there are pluses and mi­nuses to roost­ers.

“Chick­ens do very nicely with­out a rooster, and some­times a rooster can get mean,” said Nancy Fay, who now has 55 chick­ens and one rooster in her flock on the fam­ily’s 11-plus acres. Those chick­ens pro­duce enough eggs that Fay sells them in her busi­ness, the Bake Shop in Ghent.

“A chicken lays about five eggs a week, so you get al­most one a day,” she said. “Our chick­ens are free range, so the eggs are lo­cal and they’re fresh; one day here and they’re gone!”

“In a small flock, a rooster will warn the chick­ens and sac­ri­fice him­self for his flock,” said Fay, cit­ing hawks as her chick­ens’ main neme­sis.

Trus­tee James Nel­son cast the dis­sent­ing vote in the 2-1 vote on the chicken is­sue Nov. 6. He made a mo­tion that died for lack of a sec­ond to re­move the rooster pro­hi­bi­tion.

Nel­son ex­plained that his in­ter­est in roost­ers was piqued after hear­ing res­i­dents pas­sion­ately ad­vo­cate for roost­ers at the Oc­to­ber pub­lic hear­ing.

Tammy Par­sons is an­other Bath res­i­dent who has made her feel­ings about roost­ers known, both during the Oc­to­ber hear­ing and in a sub­se­quent let­ter to Funk. Par­sons asked trus­tees to be more re­al­is­tic about the num­ber of chick­ens per acre and to re­move the pro­hi­bi­tion on roost­ers and maybe limit their num­ber as an al­ter­na­tive.

“Roost­ers are a ma­jor part of keep­ing the flock se­cure from preda­tors, and they are in­dis­pens­able for those who want to raise chicks,” she wrote to Funk.

Par­sons, her hus­band and three daugh­ters live on less than 2 acres in a densely pop­u­lated part of Bath.

AKRON BEA­CON JOUR­NAL

Sis­ters Julie 5 (left), Rosa 9, and Katie, 8, Par­sons, col­lect eggs from the fam­ily chick­ens after ar­riv­ing home from school Fri­day in Sum­mit County.

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