Gahanna residents keeping backyard chickens on properties smaller than a half acre have been put on notice now that the extended deadline to remove them has passed.

Brian Reynolds, Gahanna's code enforcement officer, said March 31 was the deadline and citations will be issued if chickens remain on properties.

"This extended deadline was issued for the wellness of the animals and to allow for the removal and relocation in a more favorable time of year for weather," he said. "Now that this deadline has passed, city code enforcement has initiated the process of contacting residents that are known to have been in violation of current city code."

Reynolds said the action is being taken for the health, safety and welfare of the city and its residents.

A recommendation to Gahanna City Council from the planning commission to form a new chapter of code titled Regulation of Chickens failed 4-3 in a vote last December.

The proposal would have allowed three chickens maximum on a property smaller than a half acre.

Niel Jurist, city public information manager, said code enforcement was initiated based on information and complaints from residents.

Mayor Tom Kneeland said two extensions were granted in 2016 regarding the issue.

The first was when the code change was being heard by the planning commission, and the second was granted when a plea was made based on health concerns of moving the birds during the winter months.

A group of backyard chicken enthusiasts still has plans for taking the issue to voters in November.

Shane Ewald, city attorney, said an initiative petition would need to be filed with the council clerk by July 1.

Meanwhile, State Rep. Tom Brinkman (R-Cincinnati) has sponsored House Bill 175, which is backed by 20 co-sponsors. Introduced on April 5, the bill would sidestep local zoning laws that limit or prohibit keeping backyard chickens and other farm animals.

If the bill becomes law, it would allow a residential property owner to keep, harbor, breed or maintain small livestock on their property and prohibit zoning authorities from regulating certain agricultural activities on residential properties for noncommercial purposes.

The bill would allow homeowners to have one chicken or fowl for every 0.05 acre and a rabbit or other small animal for every 0.05 acre.

The bill rejects keeping roosters and states the homeowner would have to keep livestock in sanitary conditions.