Canal Winchester considering changes regarding keeping animals in the city


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Urban animal and apiary keepers in the city of Canal Winchester could fall under a new permitting process under consideration by city council following recommendations by the planning and zoning department.

Administrator Andrew Moore presented proposed amendments to the city code adding language allowing rabbits, ducks, chickens, and beekeeping on properties of one acre or larger and in exceptional use permit districts.

Currently, only horses are regulated and on properties of five acres or larger. The changes would also add goats to the code on the same acreage as horses.

“This was prompted by staff being asked by residents on a monthly basis,” Moore told city council members on Feb. 5.

According to the proposed ordinance, the minimum acreage for keeping chickens, ducks, and rabbits is one acre with no more than six chickens, ducks, or rabbits per acre. Roosters, geese, peafowl, or turkeys are not permitted. Chickens, ducks, or rabbits are only for personal use, not commercial purposes.

The minimum acreage for beehives is one acre, with no more than two beehives per acre. A six-foot solid fence or dense hedge, known as a flyway barrier, must be placed along the side of the beehive containing the entrance to the hive, unless it is located at least 40 feet from all property lines.

A permit could cost as much as $200.

In comparison, restrictions for unincorporated land in Franklin County are four animals for properties less than an acre and eight animals for properties one-half to one acre. A six-foot barrier is also required for bees and the permit fee for chicken/ducks/rabbits or bees is $25.

Canal Winchester property owners not falling under the proposed acreage requirement could apply for a zoning variance in order to obtain a city permit.

Dr. Jim Moses, who keeps chickens on his Columbus Street land, said, “I feel some concern about bees and chickens prompting a decision that isn’t a problem.”

Columbus Street resident and master gardener Jackie Marion said she plants flowers for the bees and feels they are an asset to the community. She said the one-acre restriction is too strict.

“I think we’re making a mountain out of a molehill for the bees,” said Marion.

Resident Keith Kitts said, although he has 10 acres of land and owns horses, he is in violation of city ordinance by keeping goats, chickens, and bees.

“I thought it was kind of ridiculous that I could have horses but no bees,” said Kitts, whose children participate in beekeeping and take care of the family chickens.

Councilwoman Jill Amos said she has allergies to bees, but still keeps two hives outside city limits. She raised concerns about 4-H members who keep animals on a temporary basis to show at fairs.

“Are we eliminating the opportunity for kids who don’t have the space?” asked Amos.

Councilman Mike Coolman was worried that chickens could attract coyotes, but Councilman Patrick Lynch said people secure their chickens at night and livestock is “fair game for anything (including cats and dogs), not just coyotes.”

Development Director Lucas Haire said, due to deed restrictions, only a quarter of the city could be impacted by the legislation.

Moore said what is being proposed is intended to allow everyone to keep chickens, ducks, rabbits, and bees. Anyone not meeting the requirements could ask for a variance, which could take up to a month.

“From allowing nothing to something seemed to be a good step,” said Moore. “This is just a template we put together. Anything within this text is flexible.

The proposed zoning changes had a first reading by council on Feb. 5. Prior to a final third reading, the ordinance can be amended, tabled or withdrawn.

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