Monday, February 27, 2012

Backyard Chickens in Delaware, Ohio?

An explanation of my "no" vote regarding a proposal to allow backyard chickens on small, urban lots in the city of Delaware:

1. Property owners rights - While I certainly believe property owners have rights, I feel those rights end where they begin to infringe upon others. I have been contacted by numerous individuals who, for various reasons, do not wish to live next to backyard chickens. Regardless of their reasons, when those individuals chose to live in Delaware, backyard chickens were not permitted on small, urban lots. In my opinion, it is not fair to those individuals to change the rules regarding chickens after they have already purchased their home. I am sure you wouldn't want Delaware to change its zoning laws to allow a strip mall to be located in your neighbor's yard. You would likely consider that unfair because you didn't chose to live next to a strip mall. Whether you agree with their reasons or not, some people feel just as adamantly about not living next to chickens as you would likely feel about not living next to a strip mall. We have zoning laws in place to prevent these sorts of things from happening, to protect an individual's investment when they purchase property, and to give them some assurances about what will be permitted or prohibited on their neighbor's property.

2. Potential for nuisance complaints/predators - I had personal experience with the potential downsides of chicken ownership when I was contacted by the neighbor of someone owning chickens illegally in the city. This neighbor complained about the smell, the pests, and the noise. While many of the urban chicken proponents insist that chickens do not smell or attract nuisances such as rats and predators, I simply disagree. I have found a great deal of evidence these concerns are very real and possible. For example, on a pro-backyard chicken forum I found this thread discussing the difficulty some chicken owners have had dealing with rats.
http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/528783/how-do-you-get-rid-of-rats-do-they-kill-chickens-or-just-the-babies
I also found an article discussing this potential.
http://raisingbackyardchickens.org/169/rats-one-of-the-biggest-problems-of-raising-backyard-chickens/
While I realize some of these concerns can be mitigated by properly storing food, etc. I also realize the reason we have a code enforcement department is that 100% compliance on anything cannot be guaranteed and is very unlikely. Those individuals that do not comply with the "best case scenarios" of chicken ownership will have neighbors. Those neighbors will have to deal with the nuisance issues created.

I also have a concern about coyotes. I spoke with Marne Tichenell from OSU Wildlife Extension after the coyote meeting on February 22 and asked her if she felt backyard chickens would attract coyotes into city backyards. She said yes, this would be an example of "unintentional feeding" if the coyotes were able to gain access to the chickens. Even if the coyotes weren't able to gain access to the coop, they would still be attracted to the area, according to Marne. Given the current level of concern and fear regarding the coyotes, I do not feel it is in the city's best interest to add an attraction to further draw coyotes into our backyards.

3. Code enforcement issues - At a time when our city is trying to do more with less and is facing revenue shortages, allowing backyard chickens would add to the responsibilities of our code enforcement. While it was very generous for the pro-backyard chicken group to offer help in this regard, only actions taken by the city in an offical capacity would be enforceable. Because of the chicken complaint that happened in my ward, I have had first hand knowledge of the time and resources that went into getting that complaint resolved.

4. Various other misc. issues - These include animal rights concerns and other health issues outlined in these articles

http://www.all-creatures.org/articles/ar-backyard.html
http://yourlife.usatoday.com/fitness-food/safety/story/2011-08-24/Salmonella-traced-to-backyard-chicken-farms/50128844/1

I hope you understand I have given careful consideration to both sides of this issue. I absolutely recognize the benefits of owning chickens but do not feel they are appropriate in our city backyards. As a council representative, I must give careful consideration to what I believe is in the best interest of our city as a whole. There are many potential drawbacks to this practice, and I feel they outweigh the potential benefits. That is my personal opinion based upon my own experience with the issue, the research I have completed to better inform myself, the recommendations of our city's planning department staff, and contact from numerous constituents who against backyard chickens.

While I understand many cities allow this practice, I also realize there are just as many that have decided, for many of the same reasons I've outlined above, that urban chickens are not in the best interest of their city at this time. These cities include Reynoldsburg, Westerville, and Worthington.


If anyone has any questions, I encourage you to call me at 740-362-2178 or email lkeller@delawareohio.net

At the requst of Councilman Chris Jones, I am also including an explanation of his reasoning as well.

I have a real appreciation for your passion for the sustainability movement. I am involved with sustainability every day with my "full time job" selling and promoting bio retention ponds, rain gardens, recycled content products, pervious pavement options and other LEED inspired products. I would guess I may have the best insight to sustainability issues and movements than most my council colleagues respectfully.

Urban chickens is a movement I do not support due to its impact on those who are not interested in supporting it and didn't ask to participate. I mean by this potential urban chicken health hazards as outlined in great detail by the Center of Disease Control (especially in children under 5), potential nuisance and noise violations, increased attraction of rodents, increased attraction of predators to residential areas (coyotes for example as confirmed by OSU specialist Marne Titchenell when asked directly by a colleague after the community forum). Also the decrease market value potential for an individual to sell their home when potential buyers see a chicken coup next door is another huge issue for me. And finally, the drain on city resources investigating complaints and compliance is another negative for me as well.

I feel strongly when an individual chooses to live in an urban setting there are certain activities that they should be aware that are not allowed for various reasons whether it be zoning for example or something that could have a negative impact on their neighbors. I personally would LOVE to raise bees at my home for honey and candles but I know this is not fair to my neighbors who may have issues with this practice including but not limited to allergies to bees. I feel the urban chicken movement falls in to this example as well.

I hope I've helped shed some light on my thoughts regarding this issue. I would also share that the amount of call, emails, conversations at work, at church, at the grocery and around town have been overwhelmingly negative to this issue by at least an 6-1 margin (I stopped tracking after a while). I am also tremendously sad and disappointed how out of hand and confrontational (on both sides) this issue has gotten in our community.
-Councilman Chris Jones
Ward 1 Representative





Thursday, October 13, 2011

Candidate Forum

Candidate and Issues Forum

October 19, 2011

7 pm

Delaware Township Hall

2590 Liberty Road


*Please come and show Lisa M. Keller your support and hear more about her vision for an even better Delaware!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Find Me On Facebook

Did you know I have a facebook page?

You can "like" me to get information and updates about city issues, projects, etc.

Go here to find me.

I hope you have a great day!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

City/YMCA Recreation Merger

I'll admit it, when the YMCA proposed taking over the city's recreational services, I was less than enthusiastic but couldn't quite put my finger on why. Entering uncharted territory can be pretty unsettling. I was pretty satisfied with the city run recreational services and didn't really see a reason to switch.

My mind started opening once I saw this arrangement had the potential to save a large amount of taxpayer dollars (around $150,000 a year.) My mind opened a little more when the YMCA described how they would be able to expand the programs and services already offered to the city residents, and in many cases provide those services at a reduced rate than people were already paying.

This agreement between the city and the YMCA took a year to craft. A public forum was held to hear input from city residents. This issue was given a full three readings at council to give the public opportunity to weigh in and have their specific concerns addressed. Every step of the way, I was impressed with the YMCA's willingness to work with the city and specifically address individual concerns. This partnership was built over time and with the help of many city residents, whose specific feedback helped to shape this agreement.

To build confidence, the city can cancel this agreement for any reason with 90 days notice. We literally have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

People are always talking about government needing to do more with less. This agreement is an example of that. As council members, we have an obligation to our constituents to explore every opportunity to save taxpayer dollars. We need to look for ways to collaborate whenever possible. Last March we accomplished that when we consolidated our city's 911 dispatching with the county. This move made sense because it saved taxpayer dollars while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services. That is exactly what this YMCA merger accomplishes. If we were able experience success with something as critical as 911 services, certainly we can find a way to make it work with recreation.

As city council members, our job is to gather information, obtain input from our constituents, and make decisions as to what is in the best interest of the city of Delaware. We did that last night and I am proud to have voted "yes." I hope to continue to find ways to do more with less of your taxpayer dollars.

If you would like to give feedback regarding this or any other issue, please feel free to call me at 362-2178 or email at lkeller@delawareohio.net.