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B.G. panel scratches chickens

Plan commission unanimously opposes backyard poultry

BOWLING GREEN — After hearing from city residents both in favor of and opposed to keeping backyard chickens, the Bowling Green Planning Commission without fanfare voted 7-0 on Wednesday against the idea.

The planning commission, which makes recommendations to city council, agreed before a packed council chamber room that the city should not make any changes to the zoning code as it relates to keeping livestock. Currently, the code does not permit chickens or any kind of livestock except in the pockets of the city that are zoned agricultural.

The issue still could be taken up by council if a member chooses to introduce it, and a proponent, Dr. Sherri Thomas, said afterward that she planned to attend the next council meeting.

“I don’t feel like this is the end of the line just yet,” she said.

Fourth Ward Councilman Greg Robinette raised the idea of keeping backyard chickens in June after he was contacted by some residents. The planning commission appointed a subcommittee to study the issue, and it recommended no change to the zoning code.

Prior to the vote, a choked-up Laura Sanchez asked the commission to reconsider the proposal. She said she contacted five cities in Ohio that allow backyard chickens, including Toledo, and found that none received many complaints about chickens.

She suggested the city consider adopting a sunset provision that would enable the city to get rid of the chicken ordinance after a year if it didn’t work out.

Carol Lashuay said many city lots are small and the houses are close together. She said she wouldn’t like it if her neighbors on West Merry Avenue had chicken coops and “if I were buying a home, I certainly wouldn’t choose one that had a chicken coop next door.”

Stephen Bihary, whose neighbor Dr. Thomas has been cited for having illegal backyard chickens, said the chickens “are not a nuisance at all.”

“My life has been enriched by the chickens,” he said. “ … We share tomatoes and the things that we get out of the garden with them, and they share the chickens with us.”

Also Wednesday night, after a contentious public hearing, the commission voted 4-3 to recommend that city council rezone eight lots on North Prospect and East Wooster Street, another property on North Prospect, and four lots on North Summit from B-2 general commercial to B-3 central business.

Those seeking the rezoning said they would tear down the houses there with plans to build a structure with commercial space on the first floor and apartments on as many as three upper floors. Michelle Green, who represented the owners, said the intent is “to establish a corridor from the university to the downtown with a small business mix with apartments.”

Several neighboring property owners spoke out against the rezoning, saying that, because no drawings or plans were presented, they were concerned about what might be built in place of the houses.

The commission also set a public hearing for Nov. 7 for a request to rezone property on East Wooster from to B-3 from B-2. The property, which includes the former Ohio National Guard Armory and the former Deck-Hanneman Funeral Home, is proposed as the site of a CVS Pharmacy.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.

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