Huber Heights residents want chickens on the ballot

Huber Heights is considering amending its zoning laws to allow residents to raise chickens at home.

Gateview Court resident Sarah McBride, who received a violation notice for the coop in her backyard four months ago, is spearheading a community initiative to get chickens on the ballot this winter.

McBride said producing her own fresh, hormone-free eggs is one way of guaranteeing that she knows where her family’s food comes from. The chickens support clean, sustainable living — but they are also a cost-cutter, she said.

“We are a family of six on one income so it’s a very economical way for us to eat healthy food,” she said.

After the city asked McBride to get rid of her chickens, she worked with officials to place the issue on City Council’s meeting agenda in June and July. City Manager Rob Schommer said that, after much deliberation, council members thought it best to put chickens up to a vote city-wide.

McBride filed an official political action committee with the Board of Elections on July 14th: C.L.U.C.K., which stands for “Community Led Urban Chicken Keeping.”

On Tuesday, C.L.U.C.K submitted amendments to the text of the Planning and Zoning code to the City of Huber Heights.

If passed by voters, the revised ordinance would allow residents to have as many as six chickens on their property. The proposed legislation also specifically mandates that roosters (the loud ones) not be kept on lots smaller than one acre, that all chickens be kept in a sheltering structure or fenced outdoor area at all times, that feed be stored in rodent-proof containers, and that manure from the chickens be disposed of in a way that limits odors.

McBride said she based these specifications on the ordinance passed in Franklin County last year.

The committee will need to collect 2,200 signatures by November 5th in order to meet the deadline for February’s special election, said Jan Kelly, elections director at the Montgomery County Board of Elections.

When the City posted a survey on its website earlier this summer, it found that 67 percent of the 300 who responded were pro-poultry and 33 percent were against. Schommer said those findings are not “scientific” due to the fact that Huber Heights cannot control who visits the site or how many times a person will vote.

But McBride’s neighbor, Janet South-Wright, said she will be voting “yes” if the issue makes the ballot. “I didn’t even know they had them,” she said. “I couldn’t smell them, couldn’t hear them… I think they should keep them, I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

The City of Huber Heights agreed to postpone code enforcement until it was clear that the law would not change. Because C.L.U.C.K. missed the deadline for the November election, and is now shooting for a special election in February, it is possible that the agreement will change.

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