Chickens in Worthington: City Council update, May 1, 2023
It is often difficult for issues that are not of the highest importance or most urgent nature to get a hearing at City Council. That’s understandable, but on the other hand it is often the small things, taken together, that give a community its character and quality of life. I put the issue of chickens in this latter category—specifically, the issue of whether Worthingtonians should be allowed to have a backyard coop, with a few hens (no roosters), yielding household eggs.
Last Monday (May 1), Council took an affirmative step in this direction. We voted on a motion made by Council Member Smith, seconded by me, that directs City staff to prepare an ordinance by the end of 2023, that would enable most households in Worthington to house a chicken coop, within clear regulatory guidelines (setbacks from neighboring residences, numbers of chickens, size of coop, location of feed, etc.). The ordinance, if passed later this year after public discussion, will achieve this aim by simply modifying our existing City Code (505.08), which currently allows for chickens, but with a 150’ setback requirement that disqualifies most households.
The vote on the motion was split (4-3), as follows:
For: Brewer, Bucher, Robinson, Smith
Against: Hermann, Kowalczyk, Michael
You can watch the Council discussion here, from 22:45 to 33:09: https://worthingtonoh.new.swagit.com/videos/225329
If the end-of-the-year timing for consideration of the ordinance seems slow moving, it is. And that’s why I opened this post with the observation that non-critical issues, especially if not easily and unanimously supported by all, are often stalled, one way or another. Smith has been discussing this issue publicly since at least April, 2022: https://www.dougsmithohio.com/post/chickens-in-worthington . And again here, in September, 2022, https://www.dougsmithohio.com/post/update-on-backyard-chickens . Smith presented the issue at length at the March 6, 2023, City Council meeting, as preparation for making the motion last Monday. Of further note, there is an annual cycle for obtaining chicks (early springtime), and the reasoning behind the end-of-the-year timeline for consideration of the ordinance is that if, after public scrutiny, the ordinance passes Council around the turn of the year, there will be time for Worthington households to start raising chickens in the spring of 2024.
I welcome any thoughts and feedback from you at this time. Or, later this year, when the draft ordinance is made available for public comment.