Reynoldsburg News

City council

Resident won't let backyard chicken issue fly away

By DAVID S. OWEN
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Richard Boone returned to city council Monday to ask that members further examine the issue of allowing chickens to be raised in Reynoldsburg backyards.

In pleading his case, he objected to statements made during last week's safety committee meeting, where the issue apparently laid an egg. Committee chair Mel Clemens and member Fred Deskins, both of whom said they were reared in rural areas and in families that kept barnyard animals, said raising chickens in city backyards is not something that should be permitted. They voiced concerns about whether allowing chickens in the city could draw predators such as raccoons, vicious dogs or coyotes into neighborhoods, whether the fowl would become a health hazard and whether raising city chickens would jeopardize property values.

As a result, the issue was dropped and not considered for further discussion.

Boone wants to have it placed back on the safety committee's agenda for further analysis and consideration.

"Backyard chickens are a part of the future of this planet, not just a part of its past," he said at council's June 13 meeting.

Boone claimed that many of the statements made at last week's safety committee meeting were myths, not facts, including the idea that backyard chickens must produce more bad odors, be more insect-ridden, noisier or would generate a significantly great number of dangerous predators than the animals allowed under the current Reynoldsburg ordinance.

He also said it's a myth that a few well-cared-for backyard chickens would drive down the resale value of houses more than the animals already allowed.

"What I would like to know today, if at all possible, is will this council have an open mind and look for the best possible facts when you make your decisions and vote?" Boone asked. "Because backyard chickens seems like a pretty safe topic, compared to the millions of dollars spent each year by this council but the same reasoning should apply.

"I am certain that every voter in Reynoldsburg wants to know if we spend our money based on hearsay and rumor, or do we seek out the best possible facts," he said.

The issue was first brought up during a May 9 city council meeting by Boone, who said he and his family wanted to raise chickens in their backyard but had found city code to be unclear. That's when the subject was referred to the safety committee.

During last week's meeting, Clemens said when Reynoldsburg was a village some 50 years ago, people had pigs and chickens and cows, but since then, the village had grown into a city and raising chickens is for those living in the country.

Boone said Monday that statement "assumes there is a black-and-white distinction between country and city."

"This statement assumes some underlying definition of 'city,' it assumes some common set of values and behaviors that I do not believe we all have in common," he said. "It also clearly excludes me from being a decent member of the city."

Boone went on to say Reynoldsburg is not an island isolated from the rest of the world, surrounded by country, but rather a suburb, "and you cannot be a suburb of nowhere," he said.

No council member had any response to his comments.

Boone said after the meeting he will pursue avenues to hopefully have the issue placed back on the safety committee's agenda.

Clemens said he has no problem with Boone's attempt to get the issue back before the safety committee, but he sees no reason for it.

"He didn't say anything that impressed me any I'm not going to discuss this over and over for a year," Clemens said.

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