Backyard chickens: the latest Streetsboro debate

The citizens of Streetsboro may be able to expect new neighbors around the beginning of December: backyard chickens.

During the Streetsboro city council meeting on Oct. 11, 2021, city council members discussed possible zoning amendments regarding who can own backyard chickens.

“City council and the planning commission have been talking about this and discussing this amendment for a long time,” said Glenn Broska, the mayor of Streetsboro. “We probably have 10 or 12 different zones.”

In Streetsboro, the different zones include residential, multi-family homes, industrial and business zones. If the ordinance is passed, chickens will now be allowed in residential zones, Broska said.

The city looked to different areas with similar ordinances for reference when deciding on Streetsboro’s proposed legislation.

“I studied regulations from all surrounding cities and felt Kent’s were pretty good,” said Justin Ring, a Streetsboro city councilman at large. “They had already taken what was best from all different legislations around and put them into one. We tailored it more to what we needed in Streetsboro.”

“We have people in town that want to keep chickens and, and it seems to be a current trend in a lot of cities,” said Glenn Broska, the mayor of Streetsboro. Photo by Bella Hagey.

The amendment would allow community members to own chickens as long as the chicken coop meets all of the city’s standards. 

According to Ring, some of these standards include:

  • Participating citizens must have fencing or shrubbery so the chickens are not in plain sight
  • The chickens must be cooped in a predator-proof coop
  • The chickens can not create noise or any sanitary hazard for neighbors
  • A maximum of six chickens are allowed on one property

Also, the chicken coop has to be 20 feet from the house, 20 feet from the back property line and 10 feet from either of the side property lines. 

“With those setback regulations, it really does limit it to larger lots,” Ring said. “We didn’t want to specify an actual lot size because there’s some smaller lots that may be able to accommodate this in more rural areas. Using the setback guidelines, we can still effectively limit lot size, but make it more lenient and beneficial.”

City council is required by law to have three readings of an ordinance unless it is an emergency, Broska said. The first reading was on Oct. 11, the second will be on the 25, and the third, along with a public hearing, will be on Nov. 8. City council is also planning on voting on the ordinance Nov. 8.

“The majority of feedback I’ve gotten has all been for it,” Justin Ring, a Streetsboro city councilman at large, said when asked about resident feedback. Photo by Bella Hagey.

“After they vote on Nov. 8, there’s a 30 day referendum,” Broska said. “It’ll go into affect sometime in early December.”

Positive and negative feedback from the community

Besides having fresh eggs, Ring found a main reason for the community’s push for less restrictive backyard chicken regulations is teaching kids responsibility.

“Most of the people that I know who want or have coops, want them for this reason,” Ring said. “You have to get up and feed and clean them.”

However, the argument of backyard chickens will never have a 100% agreed upon decision, Ring said.

“People are worried about noise and people are worried about cleanliness,” Ring said. “A lot of people have misconceptions of what chickens actually do.”

Hens do not make a lot of noise, until roosters, which are excluded from the ordinance. Also, with only six chickens allowed on one property and with the sanitary guidelines, the fears held by some community members will more than likely not happen, Ring said.

Overall, the city is excited to give Streetsboro residents some freedom to do what they want in their property, as long as it does not impose on their neighbors, Ring said.