By Linda Dillman
The first test of Canal Winchester’s city code addressing the keeping of chickens in a residential area has arose.
In June, Elizabeth Street property owner David Gilham applied for a zoning variance to keep three chickens on less than the one acre city minimum. The chickens are located in a coop connected to a covered run protected by a solid, six-foot fence.
Following a July 9 Planning and Zoning Commission hearing, the request was denied, resulting in Gilham’s appeal to Canal Winchester City Council and a public hearing on Sept. 4.
“Everything was met as far as the code was passed, in terms of enclosure,” said Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Bill Christensen. “What it didn’t meet was acreage.”
Gilham provided council with letters of support from neighbors for his three hens.
However, Christensen said it was the noise and potential health hazard complaints of two residents against the coop during the July hearing that helped influence the commission’s decision—in conjunction with the size of the property.
Neither complainant appeared at the council public hearing.
“This originally started by having a fence put in for our dogs,” said Gilham. “There were no complaints until the fence went up. It was wide open in the back yard, in sight, until the fence went up. The whole neighborhood was at our house for Memorial Day. As soon as the fence went up, we started having problems.”
Councilman Pat Lynch said there was discussion when the issue and resulting city code changes took place earlier this year. At that time, council expected situations like the Gilham’s could pop up and would be handled on a case-by-case basis.
“We are an agricultural community and should approve it,” said Lynch.
While conditions for keeping chickens within the city, aside from acreage, were met— including screening, waste disposal, feed containment, number of animals, enclosure and training—Councilman Mike Coolman still had reservations.
Coolman said he was concerned about public safety and the potential to attract animals such as coyotes and raccoons.
“I haven’t seen a single raccoon,” said Gilham. “I’ve seen field mice and chipmunks. I’ve never lost a single chicken.”
No action was taken following the public hearing. Law Director Gene Hollins said his office would craft variance language for consideration at the Sept.17 council meeting.
•Some Columbus and Waterloo streets residents presented petitions with 89 signatures asking for council’s help in curbing speeding on the two streets.
Resident Jackie Marion said residents approached council last year with the same concerns and, while thankful for another deputy patrolling city streets, still see motorists driving too fast.
“We don’t have answers,” said Marion. “We have suggestions. We honestly think we have a problem. You’ve given us a Band-Aid. We need a tourniquet.”
Resident Brian Vance resident said the street is a long, straight shot out of town flanked by houses that are home to many children. He also reported on a recent accident where a speeding vehicle hit a parked car and flipped over.
“We need to do what we can to police that street,” said Vance.
Whether there’s 15 children or one child on a street, if there is a speeding problem, it has to be taken care of,” said Councilman Mike Walker.
•Council is moving ahead with a change to city code enacting a 3 percent admissions tax on places such as auditoriums, golf courses (the actual greens fee paid directly or indirectly by the individual golfer is considered an admission charge); amusement attractions; outdoor (open air or enclosed) event venues where a restricted area is designated as the event grounds and a charge is made for admission to the event grounds and establishments where a charge is made for a tour of the attraction or facility.
There are exemptions to the tax for religious, educational, charitable, military or governmental institutions, societies or organizations.