Whitehall News

Farm animals verboten under councilman's new measure

Handful of city residents who already keep chickens would be grandfathered in

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Although Whitehall leaders said it's not a problem in the city, legislation prohibiting the boarding of farm animals was introduced at the May 13 meeting of Whitehall City Council committees.

Councilman Larry Morrison introduced an ordinance amending the city's codified ordinances concerning prohibited and dangerous animals, adding to the list "bovine (cattle), ovine (sheep), caprine (goat), equine (horse) and fowl," and in a separate section, bees.

Morrison said chickens are the only animals on the list known to be in the city, with an estimated six residents believed to have hens.

Morrison said he introduced the legislation after learning from Service Director Ray Ogden that several residents are believed to have chickens and current legislation does not prohibit it.

"(Whitehall) is not conducive to raising farm animals ... We're trying to improve this city and we will have a better image if we don't allow farm animals," Morrison said.

"Most cities have (ordinances prohibiting farm animals) ... It's also for the health and safety of our city, too."

Councilman Bob Bailey asked about the status of any animals residents currently own that are proposed to be added to the list of prohibited animals.

"They would be (permitted as) grandfathered," City Attorney Mike Shannon said.

The legislation also would prohibit owning pigs, but rabbits would be allowed, Morrison said. The legislation may include a provision prohibiting the coloring or dyeing of rabbits, he said.

Also at last week's committee meetings, Development Director Zach Woodruff introduced legislation for the sale of bonds for two purposes.

The city will issue bonds in the amount of $1.5 million for the construction of a median at the western end of East Main Street, and bonds in the amount of $200,000 for the purchase of real estate and site improvements on South Hamilton Road, Woodruff said.

Debt service for the bonds will be derived from existing tax-increment financing districts and will not be taken from the city's general fund, Woodruff said.

Tax-increment financing is a mechanism available to local government to finance public infrastructure improvements, according to the Ohio Department of Development. A TIF locks in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation is approved, diverting the incremental revenue to designated uses, such as funding public improvements.

The $1.5 million bond sale will be used to fund the construction of a boulevard on East Main Street at the city's western border with Columbus.

Woodruff and engineers from EMH&T introduced the concept of the boulevard to city officials late last year.

"You know you're in Bexley and you know you're in Reynoldsburg (when traveling on East Main Street), but there is no such clear delineation where Whitehall begins and ends on East Main Street," Woodruff told council members in October.

Originally proposed at 250 feet in length, the median between the east and west lanes will be reduced to about 175 feet in response to the concerns of some area business owners, Woodruff said May 13.

"We've tweaked the final design, shortened it a little bit ... but there is no real impact. What you've seen (in the past) is by and large the same," Woodruff said.

The city has not solicited bids for the project. Construction is expected to begin later this year and be completed by the end of the year, Woodruff said.

Officials last week also discussed the progress of city's Home Reinvest Program.

"If this is as wildly successful as I think it will be ... I might ask (council) for additional funding," said Mayor Kim Maggard.

The program, scheduled to launch after council's approval June 3, would provide residents a matching grant of up to $7,500 for qualifying exterior remodeling and home-improvement projects.

Council members challenged some of the program's stipulations, including that residents must not have an annual household income in excess of $125,000 to qualify.

"I think that's too high. I want this to help the people who need it most," said Bailey, opining that households with annual income greater than $125,000 might not need the assistance.

"I know it sounds like a lot," Maggard said, "but if you have five kids, it doesn't go as far as you think."

"I knew we couldn't craft a program to help everyone," she said, referring to some residents who might be unable to meet the matching requirement, but added the program will benefit many residents and achieve the city's goal of improving aesthetics.

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