Whitehall News

Hen owners off the hook

City leaders nix proposal to ban hens, bees, though roosters could be prohibited; new limits could follow

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Whitehall City Council members apparently have decided not to prohibit residents from owning hens -- but roosters are another story.

Council members agreed at the May 27 meeting of City Council committees to amend a proposed ordinance concerning banned animals by removing hens and bees from the list, but adding roosters.

The ordinance, proposed by Councilman Larry Morrison, proposes amendments to an existing ordinance. It originally sought to add hens and bees to the list of prohibited animals, but after being vetted May 27, it appears a majority of council members oppose the prohibition of hens and bees.

"It's a personal property issue, period. The government shouldn't tell you what you can and can't own (if the property) isn't harmful to others," Councilman Bob Bailey said.

About six or seven Whitehall residents are known to own chickens and none have been a source of complaints to the city in at least the past two years, according to several city officials, including Service Director Ray Ogden.

Morrison said he does not think farm animals are compatible with Whitehall but agreed to the changes other council members proposed.

Remaining at issue is a possible policy to regulate farm animals and perhaps domestic pets.

Councilman Wes Kantor appealed to council members to consider the legislation in place in neighboring Bexley.

Kantor said he discovered few other central Ohio municipalities prohibit chickens and did not favor Morrison's original proposal, but thinks Whitehall should instead regulate ownership of chickens and all animals in the city.

"Just about everyone allows (chickens), but there are codes," Kantor said.

He said Bexley allows each resident to register five animals in any combination, such as two dogs, two cats and one chicken.

Council President Jim Graham said he had no problem with people having chickens unless it "was an inordinate amount."

Graham also suggested the size of a resident's lot could be a factor in determining how many, if any, chickens a person could own.

"To allow someone with a 20-by-70-foot lot to have five chickens is different than allowing someone with a one-acre lot to have five chickens," Graham said.

Council members also discussed potential regulation of beehives.

Morrison's original ordinance was scheduled for a second reading at the Tuesday, June 3, council meeting, but an amended ordinance was expected to be substituted at either the June 3 or the June 17 meeting, when the ordinance is scheduled for a third and final reading.

Additional amendments also will be required, Ogden said, so as not to conflict with other sections of the city's codified ordinances.

Also at last week's committee meetings, council members opted not to take up the issue of whether signs should be posted in the city concerning through truck traffic on residential streets.

Councilwoman Leslie LaCorte asked whether the topic was to be addressed as planned, but Morrison and Kantor deferred to Councilman Chris Rodriguez, who was absent.

Rodriguez is chairman of the Community Standards and Enforcement Committee, where the proposed legislation is under consideration. LaCorte, Kantor and Morrison are members.

Rodriguez, who was called out of the city for work, said Thursday, May 29, he was unable to meet with City Attorney Mike Shannon to discuss the status of the city's current codified ordinances concerning through truck traffic.

Whitehall resident Gerald Dixon raised the concern of heavy trucks using residential streets and asked for signs to be posted alerting drivers that through truck traffic is prohibited.

Dixon said there appeared to be different interpretations of the prohibition among code-enforcement officers and the police department.

Rodriguez said he plans to meet with Shannon and Safety Director Chuck Underwood to "clear up" city code concerning the matter, then determine if and where signs are warranted.

Rodriguez said he will not be present until the June 17 council meeting and was not sure if it would be addressed then or at the June 24 meeting of council committees, where proposed legislation typically is first introduced and discussed.

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