Residents want law that prohibits chickens changed

Riverside the latest area community to debate keeping poultry.

Jack and Melodie Rowland have already collected about 100 pro-poultry signatures from their neighbors on and around Wynora Avenue.

The couple’s next move is to apply for rezoning through the Planning Commission, according to City Council member Ken Curp.

Riverside is the latest community in the region to engage in a dispute about chickens being allowed in high-density residential neighborhoods.

Just last month, Clark County filed a civil law suit against a Springfield-area family that the county said broke zoning laws with their coop. Beavercreek voted two years ago against keeping chickens as pets when opponents questioned the cleanliness of the birds and whether allowing them might open the door to keep other farm animals.

The Rowlands said officials dismissed the issue without real consideration at a City Council meeting in Riverside last week.

“It seems like City Council is out of touch with people being more green,” said Melodie.

A Riverside ordinance concerning the issue was re-approved in September 2013, after a multi-year review process. The law states that property owners must reside on at least 1.5 acres of land in a low-density neighborhood in order to raise their own chickens.

Many homeowners in Riverside, including the Rowlands, sit on only a quarter of an acre.

The couple has housed 11 hens and a rooster in a chicken coop, complete with heat lamps, since October. They said they were unaware that raising chickens is illegal in their neighborhood prior to receiving a warning from a city worker who noticed the coop while ticketing a vacant lot next door.

“Our neighbors never filed a complaint,” Jack Rowland said. “The chickens are so quiet that half our neighbors didn’t even know we had them until we knocked on their doors and asked if we were bothering them.”

Curp said that, while the peace of those on Wynora Avenue does not seem to be disrupted, what works for one neighborhood is unlikely to work for the entire community.

“How can you allow (people to raise chickens) without encroaching on neighbors’ right to peaceful use of their own property?” Curp said.

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