Chickens have no place as pets in city

Issues regarding animals typically don’t find their way onto a Columbus City Council agenda, but there is one that the council needs to address in the near future: Should chickens be permitted as pets in the city?

Families in Columbus who have chickens as pets inside the city limits earned a victory with a recent city Board of Zoning Appeals decision.

Fred Barnett, the city’s code enforcement officer, had determined that chickens kept by Susan Bishop of Hillcrest Drive and Jessica Bostic of Rideway Drive violated a local ordinance that classifies chickens as farm animals.

The zoning appeals board disagreed, however, saying the chickens were kept in controlled environments that didn’t trouble most neighbors. Bishop also contended that language existed in an animal control ordinance that classifies chickens as domestic animals.

The board, which reviews property-owner requests for exceptions to zoning ordinances, heard the case and overturned Barnett’s ruling. Its decision was in part to urge the city council to formally address the issue. The board noted that the city of Seymour recently approved allowing chickens as pets, although with restrictions on numbers and types.

Columbus needs to take steps to shore up its ordinance regarding farm animals and not allow pet chickens on properties less than 5 acres within city limits.

Failing to do so opens up the possibility of more pet chickens in subdivisions, more nuisance-related neighbor disputes and the possibility of permitting other farm animals as pets. What’s next? Pigs? Sheep?

When residents move into a city neighborhood, they have certain expectations. Having chickens next door is not one of them.

We urge the city council to formally address the issue and devise an ordinance that prohibits chickens as pets in the city.