Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Dayton and Other Nearby Burbs: What are the rules?

So, folks are dying to know: Can I have chickens where I live?

Since I have researched Dayton the most - I'll start with them:

In the Dayton municipal code section 91.01 it says "Pet means an animal that has been adapted or tamed to live in intimate association with or for the pleasure or advantage of people and includes, but is not limited to dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and hamsters. Pet does not mean any animal purposely kept as food." This is one point of contention that I had with the city staff. I believe a few laying hens would be pets, not food. I don't plan to kill them once they stop laying eggs and that makes them pets in my book. What I heard from the staff is that since you are harvesting something from the animal it isn't a pet in their book. I disagree.

In municipal code section 91.02 part (4) it says you may not:
"Keep animals other than cattle, poultry or fowl, swine, sheep, or goats in an enclosure without wholesome exercise and change of air, nor feed cows on food that produces impure or unwholesome milk." BTW - I interpret this as permission to keep chickens in pens but they want them to be fed wholesome food and get fresh air.

Similar to the state law; it says in Sec. 91.04 that you can not sell baby chicks less than 3 weeks of age in lots of less than 6 chicks. In the municipal code in section 91.20 it also says you can not let a herd of animals run in the street including chickens. But, if they find you running after your chickens - they won't impound them! The imagery I have of chicken fanciers chasing chickens down their blocks all over Dayton - makes me laugh =)!

 In Sec. 91.10. - Manner of keeping animals.
(A)No person shall keep or maintain any animal in the city in such manner so as to become a public nuisance or disturb the peace, comfort, or health of any person residing within the city.
(B) The keeping of all animals within the city shall be subject to all pertinent regulations of the State Health Department and the health officer. 

 In Sec. 91.17. - Unnecessary noises by animals.
No person shall keep any animal which by causing frequent or long continued noise shall disturb one or more inhabitants of two separate residences in the vicinity. Such action is declared to be a public nuisance and detrimental to public health and welfare.

In section 94.05 (E) You can not have animals or birds that make long or enumerated noises such that it would disturb your neighbor. Since in my experience a few hens are less noisy than spring robins, I think we can meet this requirement.

You can check out the code for yourself, here:

My suggestion to city staff is to allow hens only; clean pens weekly; dispose of waste in trash or compost piles; keep feed free of rodents; if requested, don't place pens near property lines; register and pay a fee, NO ROOSTERS (they could be construed as noise nuisances anyway) and in any other way accommodate the locavores who love the City and want to also raise chickens here.

The city staff also recently made a push to allow bees, community gardens, compost, and more pop-up farmer's markets in the zoning code. While I appreciated those changes, clarifying the zoning code to allow registered chickens really seems like the more responsible way of doing things than telling folks to just do it in secret.

So I'm on a mission to root out the specifics in other localities. I've heard Kettering is a no (but I have no personal knowledge). I called Harrison Township and since the link on their web page was down when I tried to access the law; I talked with someone in community development or zoning department. He seemed to think it was a no: and no, no one in their township wanted chickens. They would be way too dirty and noisy. I began to argue when I realized I don't live there - and never will, if they don't get more friendly.

BUT the first time I called Dayton about chickens I got the same info. Until I looked more closely for myself at the law. So, if you live in another locality, PLEASE, PLEASE - research your law. Don't take their word for it. Call the City staff, and, with the details in front of you, negotiate. Then post here about your progress.

Together, we can make this happen!


Link to Dayton Daily News Article about us

Luci Beachdell wrote a nice little blog on the DDN site that got folks here. I wanted to share the link to her story in case you found me mysteriously another way.

From what I've heard from Luci a lot of us have similar goals for our backyard flock - fun, sweet pets who are hilarious to watch and fresh eggs that taste and are nothing like what you get from the store. No, we don't want roosters, and no, we don't plan to have messy smelly or loud pets. I would love it if someone would tell all the thump thump music vehicles that, no, we don't want to hear that window rattling music at any time of the day. Or, tell the large dog owner that, no, people don't appreciate being chased in their houses by loose dogs. But, since I can't, I plan to be a respectful neighbor who has a quiet flock (less noisy than some mating robins BTW) and a clean pen area.

Please share in the comments about how you plan to keep chickens and what would you do to appease neighbors. Hint, hint: an obvious help is to share eggs!