SALEM – Officials in the Township of Perry are planning to review the rule banning farm animals on less than 5 acres and possibly increase all zoning fees to bring them up to today’s standards.
Zoning / nuisance officer Jeff Christopher highlighted both ideas at a Township of Perry Zoning Council meeting on Monday evening, noting that in the month he took on his new position, about 75% of complaints of nuisance concerned animals, chickens in particular.
While driving to investigate three complaints about chickens, he also saw chickens in other properties and wondered if there was a better way to handle the situation. According to Christopher, a bill is pending at the state level regarding the authorization of farm animals in cities and this could be something to consider in the township.
He sent orders to board members in Cleveland and Columbus to see how they handle chickens and other farm animals. The township does not currently allow farm animals on properties under 5 acres.
“There are areas that shouldn’t have animals,” Christophe accepted.
But using his own property as an example, he owns 3 acres and has nothing around him but farmland and no neighbors nearby. A property like this could accommodate animals. He recently had to tell a new owner that he couldn’t have a goat even though the property has a small barn as it is less than 5 acres. He asked if it was time for a change and perhaps suggested an expansion of the rules around animals on smallholdings to regulate them.
Board member Doug Sampson said he was for negotiation and adjustment, but current law should now be enforced. He spoke about his own neighborhood on West State Street and how one property has chickens, a goat, and a rooster crowing at 4:30 a.m. goods. Why couldn’t they do the same for animals on a case-by-case basis?
The zoning rule for farm animals was approved by the township trustees in October 2017, stating that land less than 5 acres in a residential, commercial or industrial zoning district cannot have livestock (cattle, pigs, chickens, sheep, horses, llamas, cows, poultry) and does not include the feeding and housing of these animals. Apparently, properties that already owned such animals had acquired rights, which meant that the law did not apply to them.
Board chairman Steve Bailey said it might be more beneficial to have bylaws in place whether or not a property has had animals before, looking at a registration process, keeping confined animals so that they cannot roam on neighboring property and other rules.
Zoning board member Joe Farago agreed they should move forward on improving the township. Sampson asked if they could take out the grandfather clause, which Christopher said they can do so everyone is subject to the same rules.
He said he will work on a first draft to send to board members for review and they can meet again. He’s going to do the same with the zoning fee schedule, with board members talking about doubling some of the fees that date back to 1997. Some of the fees are based on a minimum, with as many cents charged per additional square foot.
Christopher suggested adjusting the fees for a range of sizes to standardize them. Farago said it would make things easier.
As an example based on an annual inflation rate of 3%, Bailey estimated that a fee of $ 25 from 1997 should look more like $ 50 today.
Christopher said he will prepare a draft for a new fee schedule and present it to council members for their comments.
Any changes would have to be approved by the Zoning Council and the Trustees, giving residents the opportunity to have their say in future discussions on the two issues.