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Cleveland chickens & bees ordinance still pecking

Marc Lefkowitz  |  11/26/08 @ 11:15am

Cleveland City Council is still working through the details of a proposed livestock ordinance that would allow (or make legal the estimated hundreds of current) chickens, turkeys, geese, ducks, and tending of bees in aviaries and coops in the city. This is a big step 'back to the future'. Who knows, this time next year, you might be in a position to raise a bird for your Thanksgiving feast.

It looks like council committees will hear and vote on the ordinance on Monday, December 8th and that the ordinance will most likely come up for a vote by the full council in early 2009.

Morgan Taggart from the OSU Extension supplied the following information including what concerns have been addressed by council since the Cleveland Planning Commission approved a draft on November 14. It looks like some of the proposed changes would make it less expensive and less onerous to get the permissions from the city. She also noted that only three out the Health Department's 20,000 complaints this year were because of chickens.

The City Council Planning Committee suggested several amendments to the ordinance. Planning Director Bob Brown has crafted some additional language to address the concerns of several members of city council. Their primary concerns were:

  • Adding more work to the Building and Housing Department for licensing and enforcement
  • Having to act as mediators between neighbors, if chickens became a nuisance
  • Slaughtering animals for consumption
  • Permission of the property owner
  • Rodent impacts

Bob Brown, Public Health Director Matt Carroll and Councilman Joe Cimperman are working to address several of concerns as well, especially regarding license, registration, and certificates of occupancy and the high fees. There is a draft currently circulating, based on recommendations that would only require a registration form with the Health Department with a nominal fee. There has also been discussion to alleviate concerns on both sides by creating a "sunset provision" that would allow this ordinance to be revisited in one year to evaluate what's working and what doesn't.

I encourage all of you to contact your councilperson on this issue in the next week, whether you raise chickens or bees or not. Please encourage them and your friends and neighbors to do the same so they know what their constituents think about this issue. To find your councilperson call City Council at 216.664.2840 or on the Web here.

The committees will hear and vote on the ordinance on Monday, December 8th, the last session of the year. Public support is essential at this meeting. If you know other chicken raisers and beekeepers ask them to come. Director Brown and Councilman Cimperman also suggested you bring your neighbors to discuss the impact or lack of impact these uses have on the neighborhood as this was a concern of several council members. I will send out the exact time once it has been confirmed.

A short piece also aired on Channel 5 yesterday. You can check it out here.


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