By Danielle Coots
For Greene County News
BEAVERCREEK — To have chickens or not have chickens in residential areas is one question city council is faced with recently. The other issue is — what is the definition of a chicken — is it considered a pet or livestock?
Council members and residents voiced their opinions during the first reading of Ordinance 16-21 — Keeping of Chickens in Residential Districts during the city council meeting on Aug. 22.
The majority of council agreed that there is a fine line that needs to be drawn between the definition of a “pet” or a barnyard animal, however the willingness to allow chickens in residential areas may not happen in Beavercreek at this time. Council member and vice mayor Julie Vann tried to embrace the changes in today’s culture and may consider the idea, despite others being against it.
“During the July 25 meeting, council mentioned a possibility of obtaining neighbors permission if you wanted to have chickens in a residential area,” said resident Pam Risen. “That’s ridiculous. You don’t have to get written permission from neighbors to have a dog or a cat.”
The current ordinance does not allow residential chickens to be housed in the city, only in areas zoned as agricultural areas.
The proposed change, if approved, will allow chickens in residential areas as some of the general regulations permit.
1) Maximum number of chickens. The maximum number of chickens shall be based on the following: a) Lots less than 15,000 square feet shall not be permitted to keep or house chickens; b) Lots that are 15,000 square feet or greater shall be permitted a maximum of six chickens; c) Chickens shall not be permitted on multi-family or two-family residential zoned properties.
2) Roosters shall not be permitted to be housed or kept on any residential zoned property within the city.
3) Coops must be constructed of solid wood, composite or vinyl material and be constructed to prevent rodents, wild birds, predators, dogs, and cats from accessing feed and the chickens.
4) Chickens shall not be permitted to be slaughtered.
Council has received negative feedback from residents concerning allowing chickens in residential areas. Many feel their property value will be affected while others do not like the idea of a “farm-feel” environment that will allow chickens in the backyards. Council member Debborah Wallace and Mayor Bob Stone agree that Beavercreek is not the place for chickens.
However, not all residents feel that way.
“I paid a lot of money for my property and I don’t think a few chickens are going to bother my neighbors or damage my property value or other adverse problems,” said resident Jim Risen. “I think the ordinance should be passed as written. I think it was well done and it’s something that’s needed. Otherwise, we have nothing.”
Council member Melissa Litteral stated that it’s true that everyone looks at the definition of a pet differently. But, one difference that she noted, between dogs and chickens, is that when her dog is becoming a nuisance she can take him inside the house, but with chickens, you cannot.
“I don’t think this barn-type ‘pet’ should be allowed in residential areas,” said resident Phil Parker. “I’ve had a chance to speak with some other Beavercreek residents about this issue since the last meeting, about 25. Each of them said that they would not have invested in property in Beavercreek if they knew chickens might be allowed in residential areas. I would ask that you not move forward with this issue.”
Council member Zach Upton spoke about a phone call he received about allowing goats to the chicken ordinance. Goats could be considered pets as well.
“If we allow a ‘pet’ goat as well as ‘pet chickens’ who’s is to say that a cow isn’t a ‘pet,’ ” he said. “There has to be a line set between domestic animals and barnyard natured animals.”
Council member Chad Whilding added that chickens were not in Beavercreek’s best interest at this time; having them in residential areas are not a necessity.
Even after a vote of three to three and a motion for reconsideration, the issue will move for the second reading during the next city council meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 5 in the Beavercreek city building. The second reading will allow public input before moving forward for the third and final reading.
Danielle Coots is a freelance writer for Greene County News.