BG drops backyard chicken proposal PDF Print E-mail
Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor   
Tuesday, 04 December 2012 11:53
Bowling Green City Council will not introduce an ordinance to amend the city zoning code to allow raising backyard chickens in some residential neighborhoods.
Council President John Zanfardino said Monday night he and three other council members, who indicated a desire to move forward Nov.19, have since decided to drop the issue.
"There has been a lengthy and spirited discussion," Zanfardino said.
"In my opinion what we have wound up with is an ordinance that is so balanced in one direction it virtually prohibits raising chickens," Zanfardino said. "This has become a very divisive issue."
Zanfardino said that because council has been unable to come up with an acceptable and functional ordinance "we are withdrawing the possibility of putting legislation before council at this point."
"I am disappointed with this decision," At-Large Council Member Bruce Jeffers said. "I continue to feel that this is not a real problem. It has become emotional and divisive. I think the community probably does not favor (chickens) by a slight margin but I have no real data to support that feeling. I agree on not pursuing this any further."
They were the only council members to comment on the issue Monday night. Earlier First Ward rep Daniel Gordon and and at-large rep Sandy Rowland indicated support. Third Ward rep Michael Aspacher, at-large rep Robert McOmber and Fourth Ward rep Greg Robinette were opponents.
Resident Chet Thomas, whose family has kept chickens in the city for several years, thanked council for its consideration and expressed disappointment in how the issue became vindictive, vitriolic and a "personal attack on the community." Thomas wondered if future citizen participation in government would be discouraged as a result, and said "I have to ask myself if I want to stay engaged in this community."
Dr. Lora Sanchez told council she had relocated her chickens, Thelma and Louise, 374 miles to an organic farm in Illinois run by a family with four children. She said the family used to live in Bowling Green. Sanchez said the city needs to get its ordinances "cleaned up" so that they are no longer misleading on the issue. "It may become a question for the courts. The next person to get a citation may not cave, but go to court."
Attorney Fred Matthews, who represented the Thomas' on the code violation issues, said he had sat through the many meetings and participated in some. "I have to echo Chet Thomas on the spirit and tone. It has been emotional and somewhat vindictive. I'm a divorce lawyer and I saw some things (on this issue) that I have not seen in those cases."
Matthews said the proponents had presented facts from the Center for Disease Control and other sources, the experiences of cities where chickens are allowed, including financial issues. He said the opponents presented "no facts and we heard a campaign of fear about disease" and other issues.
"We heard from a neighbor of the Thomas' that told us "It's OK. We like it that they (chickens) are there. We take care of them when the Thomases are away," Matthews said. He added that opponents presented no data that property values would be harmed. He said property rights  "are the jumping off point of most of American jurisprudence. This latest version of the ordinance puts the property rights in the hands of the neighbors" by requiring that all sign off on allowing chickens.
Council also:
• Learned the public works crews completed leaf pickup Friday. Leaves may be dropped off in the specified area behind the City Services Building at 515 E. Poe Road.
• Approved an ordinance allowing the city to participate in the Ohio Department of Transportation Cooperative Purchasing Program covering vehicles, machinery, materials, supplies and other articles.

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