Canal Winchester Council approves changes to animal code

By Linda Dillman

Staff Writer

Canal Winchester City Council approved an ordinance amending city code regulating the keeping of agricultural animals in non-agricultural districts.

The amendment drew interest from residents considering or already keeping rabbits, ducks, chickens and bees.

Many called the issue too restrictive and questioned the city’s need for such legislation.

According to the 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 forty feet from all property lines.

“This ordinance was written with a variance in mind,” said Councilman Mike Coolman. “This was written to be fair to both sides (applicant and neighboring property owners). It forces people to get out and talk with their neighbors.”

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 understand you needed a starting point,” Kitts said in regard to the city initiating the policy due to increased interest in keeping the animals and bees.

Council President Bruce Jarvis emphasized that city staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission allowed for variances from the one-acre restriction for residents with smaller plots of land.

“This is just a starting point,” Jarvis pointed out. “This is somewhat of an unknown and we’re somewhat cautious. We can always address this in the future.”

Residents interested in keeping rabbits, ducks, chickens or bees must fill out a permit application. If they live on land less than the one-acre threshold, they must also go through the variance process.

“It (application) would go before Planning and Zoning for a variance,” said Councilman Mike Walker. “If you’re turned down (by Planning and Zoning), you can still come before council (for potential approval).”

The city is in the process of designing the residential application.

“There are very few homes this will truly affect,” said Councilman Will Bennett, after allowing for home owner association restrictions.

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