A group of eco-minded residents are seeking to revise city codes to permit sustainable, environmentally conscious pets such as small flocks of egg-laying hens.

To the Editor:

A group of eco-minded residents are seeking to revise city codes to permit sustainable, environmentally conscious pets such as small flocks of egg-laying hens.

I do believe those who want to have backyard hens should have the right to do so, if they are kept responsibly.

How do we ensure animals are kept responsibly? Through prudent legislation. As a real estate attorney, I have experience with zoning codes and regulations ... I have worked with this grassroots group in the review of city codes and preparation of recommended amendments.

Many may be surprised to learn that hens (and livestock in general) are already permitted in Upper Arlington on parcels of 5 acres or more. The group proposes a change to the definition of "livestock" to exclude hens and therefore permit them on smaller lots.

Additionally, flock size would be limited to no more than five hens (no roosters) on lots less than a half-acre. This is sufficient room to maintain a coop (an accessory structure no larger than a storage shed), which would need to meet the same setback and development restrictions currently in the code for such structures. The issuance of a permit and inspection would be required to ensure amenities are in place for the proper care of hens and code compliance.

The city could contract with a third party to provide the inspections, so no additional personnel would be required and the costs would be passed on to the resident requesting the services. City code already has sanitary, noise and nuisance ordinances regulating household pets that would apply to hens as well.

With a few code modifications, keeping hens would be no more problematic than having dogs or cats.

Please visit https://www.facebook.com/BackyardChickensInUpperArlington to learn more about this form of sustainable living and the many benefits of backyard hens.

Beth Kelly

Columbus