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City Chicken law tabled in Sheffield Lake

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SHEFFIELD LAKE — City Council unanimously moved to send the fowl ordinance Tuesday to another discussion in September to hatch a new agreement on certain changes.

Council met Tuesday to discuss the ordinance that would limit the number of fowl a resident can have to four, along with other restrictions. But, Council still couldn't reach a consensus at the meeting, so Council President Rick Rosso suggested it go back to a work session.

"This is exactly why it should go back ... for discussion because all we're going to do is go back and forth and discuss potential changes," Rosso said.

Currently, the ordinance has language that some Councilmembers won't support, such as the limitation of the fowl at four as well as the requirements for coops or hutches for the birds. The buildings can’t be any smaller than 40 square feet, and they also must be at least 35 feet from adjacent neighbors’ property. Rosso said in an earlier article that most residents have 50-foot-wide lots and wouldn’t be able to build a structure that followed those requirements.

At an Aug. 6 work session, Mayor Dennis Bring was blunt with his hope that the ordinance be dealt with swiftly. Rosso said the ordinance is not that simple because of the complexities of the restrictions, but agreed it shouldn’t be drawn out.

Cecelia LaFollette, a city resident, attended the meeting and said she hopes they just get it over with as soon as possible. As a resident who has eight chickens on her property, she understands the need for structure and laws concerning owning fowl in residential areas, so long as it's within reason.

"Without a doubt, there has to be some type of ordinance, some type of rule," she said. "It needs to be reasonable, though."

LaFollette referred to the issue of some of the problems Council members brought up about parts of the ordinance such as the number of fowl limitations. LaFollette mentioned having the limitation at four is difficult when purchases of chickens in the Sheffield Lake area are usually six.

LaFollette will be among the residences with more than four fowl who will be "grandfathered" in, meaning they won't be forced to get rid of the fowl they already have. However, after the poultry dies or is given away, owners won’t be able to replace them once the ordinance is in effect.

Council will reach an agreement to changes to the ordinance at the next work session Sept. 17. After the changes to the ordinance are made, Council will meet to pass it.

The ordinance was born out of complaints about a residence on the 600 Block of Dunny Avenue. Two residents, Robert Tomanek and Joan Sheehan, had complained about the amount of fowls their neighbor, Katherine Fisher had, saying it was causing noise and odor issues.

Fisher received citations in July 2018 for noxious and offensive odors and unreasonable animal noises, both of which she said were dropped in court. She recently was cited in July with unreasonable noise and for violating nuisance conditions. She appeared in Mayor’s Court on Aug. 6, where she pleaded not guilty and the case was bound over to Lorain Municipal Court.

Contact Bruce Walton at 329-7123 or bwalton@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Facebook @BWalton440 or Twitter @BruceWalton.
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