What to do about a pig in a Canal Winchester yard?

By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer
Questions have arisen about the presence of a pig in Canal Winchester.

On June 15, Canal Winchester City Council held a public hearing addressing an appeal of a 30-day zoning violation issued on March 9 for a swine owned by James and Courtney Elliot. The Elliots contend their pig qualifies as an emotional support animal necessary to help Mrs. Elliot with depression and anxiety.

The Planning and Zoning Commission heard their appeal on May 11, which the couple did not attend. They also did not attend the June 15 hearing.

The commission hearing included information from neighbor Kathryn Santore consisting of pictures and descriptions of multiple issues with the animal, including digging under the fence, waste smells and other conditions related to housing the swine.

The commission reviewed the material submitted with the appeal, heard testimony and later upheld the violation notice.

Councilman Bob Clark abstained from the June hearing because of his proximity to the Elliot’s house, but testified as a resident. Law Director Gene Hollins said the burden of proof that the pig is an emotional support animal falls upon the shoulders of the couple.

“She can eventually appeal it to the court,” said Hollins. “This is just the public hearing and you do not have to take action (that evening). We understand this may resolve itself. Apparently, the property is on the market.”

During his public testimony, Clark said he lives 10 to 15 yards from the Elliots and has clear view of their property. He said the animal roams the couple’s backyard all day.

“I’ve never seen anyone talk to it, pet it, have any interaction with that animal,” said Clark.

Councilwoman Jill Amos, who previously owned an indoor pet pig, said she walked past the house in question on several occasions and the swine was outside every time.

“If it’s an emotional support animal, you would think it would be with you all the time,” said Amos.

Hollins said council has 60 days to render a decision on the appeal.

Condominium development
Canal Winchester Planning and Zoning Administrator Andrew Moore led a discussion on June 15 about the final development plan for the Greengate condominium development.

Located north of the Meijer store, which is also part of an original planned unit development preliminarily approved in 2001, construction of the 191 detached condos on 46 acres is expected to start next year.

The units, marketed for first-time home buyers, are expected to cost in the middle to upper $200,000 price range.

“All conditions have been met by this final development plan,” Moore said.

Canal Winchester city finances
A June 15 public hearing on the 2021 tax budget was held with Canal Winchester Finance Director Amanda Jackson explaining the majority of the city’s income tax revenue comes from employers, not residents.

According to Jackson, in 2019, 72 percent of general fund revenue came from income tax. Individual receipts were $446,109; business receipts were $817,866; and $6,171 million in employer income tax.

The city’s top three businesses—Canal Winchester Schools, Nifco and TS Trim—accounted for 18 percent of all income tax collections.

To date, Jackson said collections are 1 percent behind the same point last year and fluctuate daily.

“COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders will impact collections,” said Jackson. “Early projections show a loss of 5 to 10 percent of revenue. We will keep a close eye on that. We are not gaining what we typically gain. We’re being very, very conservative.”

Jackson said property tax collections continue to go up as more single-family homes are constructed, but the bed tax was impacted by the pandemic. A 2 percent increase was budgeted for employees at current staffing levels, along with expectations for an increase in health insurance premiums.

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