Letter: Chickens have no business being in city limits

From: Nancy Treesh


Do you have expectations for your lifestyle and living within the city limits of Columbus?

Our city is known far and wide for architecture, philanthropic endeavors and community activities. Columbus has received many beautification awards for projects throughout the city. Our great city is constantly on the move. Visitors access all parts of the city, retail and residential, by using miles and miles of People Trails while hiking and biking.

Visitors and residents also enjoy the atmosphere and venues of our community’s festivals and sporting events. Many of these venues are located in or near residential city park areas. Meanwhile, residents daily look forward to backyard relaxation and outdoor activities, such as swimming, barbecues and gatherings with family and friends.

Whether your pride in the community is through generations of living in Columbus, or you are here as a newcomer, many would not expect to find chickens in an adjoining yard.

Ordinances specifically stated chickens and many other farm animals were not allowed on lots less than 5 acres. With popularity in urban farming, many residents quietly added chickens to backyards, leaving Columbus City Council tasked to redefine and update ordinances. This last year many discussions were held resulting in a new ordinance being presented at the July 5 City Council meeting. The meeting ended in the formation of a community committee: five pro-chicken, five anti-chicken members, along with council representation tasked to make recommendations to the city council of acceptable parameters for urban chicken-keeping.

As an anti-chicken committee member, I find it very hard to make any acceptable recommendations for urban chicken-keeping. Experience and research have taught me that chickens are not meant for the city.

Pro-chicken residents have silently participated in urban farming, while the existing ordinances did not allow the privilege, and only now are speaking out due to the challenge and controversy of the city ordinances.

Step outside. Relax in your backyard. What do you hear? Chickens? Yes, a neighbor has chickens in town.

Imagine the peace and quiet if an ordinance approving chickens within city limits is accepted and four out of 10 neighbors on your block have chickens in their backyards. Will the chicken coop be at the farthest point of their backyard, making it closest to your outdoor entertainment area? Will the coop be spotless and clean, eliminating concerns of predators (mice, rats, raccoons, coyotes, hawks, etc.)? Nearly 200 households within city limits currently possess chickens. Over 158 calls were logged to code enforcement concerning chicken issues in our neighborhoods from September 2015 to July 2016. Should taxpayer dollars be used to monitor and police the hobby of a small percentage of households in Columbus?

The elected City Council needs to clearly hear the voices of the majority of citizens who reside in Columbus. Please email, phone or write the City Council. City Council member emails are available at columbus.in.gov/city-hall/city-council/.