The poultry issue


I am writing just a few days before the upcoming election to make one more effort to ensure that the residents of the city of Columbiana (Columbiana and Mahoning County) are aware and understand what they are being asked to vote on, whether for or against keeping live poultry in residential zones (neighborhoods).

If passed, this resolution would remove hens from simply being defined as livestock (currently only allowed in agricultural zones) and would allow them to live in residential zones and be treated not much different than other domestic pets. In fact, the word hen was simply added to the dog at large ordinance pertaining to how to treat chickens going into neighboring yards should this pass.

Hens have several differences from domestic pets that make me personally against the passage of this ordinance.

First and foremost, the CDC has seen a large spike in salmonella cases over the past few years since “urban chickens” have become popular to raise. These cases have mostly been noted in senior citizens and young children. In fact, 2017 has the highest incidence rate on record and sadly, people have died.

The second reason I am against this is because poultry attract predators. I personally do not believe that we need to increase risk of predator or other feral animals roaming neighborhoods looking for their next meal.

The third reason is sound and smell. I doubt that I need to elaborate on that. I can’t imagine a non-chicken owner enjoying the downwind sounds and odors associated with their neighbor’s chicken coop.

The last reason I am against the passage of this is simply the potential risk of reducing property values. The distance requirement in this language would allow a chicken coop to be placed only 100 feet from any neighboring home. Not from the property line, but from your home.

This is not an issue or argument removing personal freedoms as some running for office have suggested, but quite the opposite. Columbiana has zoning laws to protect our residents’ investments and quality of life. When people move here, they make their purchase with a reasonable expectation of what can and can’t be done based on the zoning area they choose to reside in. Many people live within city limits because of these protections. With poultry, the expectation has been the same since the founding of the charter more than four decades ago. They have never been allowed in residential areas. In the past, if you wanted to raise poultry you could do so simply by residing in an agricultural zoned area. That is still the case today.

I will end by saying that Columbiana is a beautiful community. It is managed well, and our zoning laws have created an environment that fosters residential and commercial investment within our community. We need to keep it that way. I am voting no on this issue, and I humbly request that you join me in doing the same, as well as electing other City Council members who support this position.

Bryan Blakeman

Mayor, city of Columbiana