Underground chicken owners push for legislation in Gahanna

GAHANNA, OH (WCMH) — Gahanna could soon be home to some feathery residents, but it’s a proposition that’s been the subject of a lot of debate.

Currently, the city’s planning commission is evaluating whether to allow citizens to own chickens and keep them in their backyard. Despite it being a code violation right now, some residents still have chickens on their property.

“I’m an underground chicken keeper,” says Gahanna resident Jeannie Hoffman.

She says she’s had her birds since May.

“I’ve wanted them for a long time and I’ve been researching it for a long time,” says Hoffman. “Now, I may or may not be able to keep them, but I took my chances knowing that I may not be able to keep them.”

She’s one of several families in the city who want legislation passed that would permit her to own chickens, but some residents have concerns.

“The odor problem, containment of the chickens, that’s another concern that we have heard,” says City Council president Stephen Renner.

He says he’s also heard citizens are worried about noise, property devaluation and noise. He says roosters will not be allowed.

“On the ‘for’ side, you have to think that these are families that have actually made a personally commitment to owning a chicken and everything that goes along with that,” says Renner.

He says after the planning commission is finished evaluating, they’ll give their recommendations to city council. There is no time line on when that will happen.

“The legislation is very clear. It’s about chickens. It doesn’t open up the door for anything else,” he says.

Renner says they are modeling their legislation after what has been passed and successfully implemented in Columbus and Bexley.

“They’re not what people are making them out to be. They’re pets. They’re not noisy. They’re not loud. Dogs are far louder when they bark,” says Hoffman. “Yes, they smell, but I don’t think it’s an overwhelming smell. I think my dog poop sitting up there might smell a little more than these do.”

She says she hopes legislation will be passed that keeps both sides happy.

“I think it’s fascinating that you could have this bird in your yard and get your breakfast,” says Hoffman. “It’s satisfying that you know you have a little more control over what you’re eating.”

If you’d like to voice your opinion, you can do so here until 5pm on Oct. 19. Otherwise, you can write a letter to city hall or voice your opinion in person.

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