By Haylee Pence
PIQUA – The Piqua City Commission considered an ordinance to amend the city code to allow backyard chickens during their general meeting on Tuesday, March 21.
The amendment contains standards and regulations on chickens and their living conditions, which include the following:
• A maximum of six chickens.Prohibition of roosters; no slaughtering of chickens on the property: a coop must be provided and be elevated and covered: a chicken run must be attached to the coop: the chickens must remain in the enclosure: enclosures must be cleaned once every seven days: sick or injured chickens are required to be isolated or treated: chicken feed must be protected from rodents and pests: chicken waste must be disposed of properly by bagging the waste and utilizing trash collection services at least once a week.
• The enclosure standards include the following:
— Enclosures have to be a minimum of 10 feet from any property and a minimum of 30-feet-of-space between the coop and a neighboring property;
— The coop must be elevated by at least 18-inches off the ground;
— The coop and run must be under 8-feet-high;
— A hardwired mesh or similar siding must be used and secured for the coop and run which includes the material being at least 2-feet-underground to prevent predators from entering the coop;
— The enclosures must be at least fifty feet away from a drinking well;
— Coops must include an egg-laying station with an easily accessible lid.
Prior to building any coop or run, residents are required to file a permit with the development director. Once built, the development department staff can inspect the enclosure as often as once per year. Inspections can also occur as needed based on written complaints by neighbors. If necessary, the removal of chickens and enclosures can occur if the standards are not brought back into compliance.
According to the resolution, “Residents should be aware that homeowners associations and neighbors within a subdivision can enforce any deed restriction that prevents keeping of chickens, though the city does not enforce these provisions.”
The city commission requested that a list of subdivisions and areas preventing chickens be provided to the residents of the city.
Then, the floor was opened up to allow citizens to discuss the ordinance.
Paige Stemen, of Madison Avenue, discussed the possibility of making an amendment to the ordinance to allow the chickens to have some “free-range time” in the resident’s backyard. She also discussed the possibility of providing local farmers with the compost material of the coop’s bedding and chicken waste.
Gary Koenig and Joe Wilson each discussed the health concerns of backyard chickens. Koenig and Wilson spoke about the possibility of Ohio Valley Fever, salmonella, and E. Coli. They continued that these diseases are transmitted through the chicken’s excrement.
Wilson said, “It threatens the health and safety of the community.”
Tom Homan, of Nicklin Avenue, addressed the commission asking “Should we cull all the geese for all the droppings they leave anywhere?” He went on to say how everything carries a risk.
Pamela Hawes, of Cleveland Street, encouraged the city commission to pass the ordinance to allow people to “grow their own food” along with “teaching children responsibilities.”
Vice Mayor Kris Lee thanked the residents who came and spoke on the issue. The next reading will be at the next meeting on Tuesday, April 4. The final reading which will be at the April 18 meeting where the commission will approve or reject the ordinance.
Also presented for a first reading was ordinance to adopt a new development code with the code Piqua project involving land usage. The new development code involves updating a fee schedule and including codes on the city’s website. The code is available for public comment on the city’s website.
Commissioner Kazy Hinds said, “I’m glad we’re finally at the place where we can move forward with this.”
Another ordinance was presented for its second reading to establish the city’s website as the official place to publish ordinances and resolutions. The third and final reading will be at the April 4 meeting.