Can you have Backyard Chickens in Ohio?


A court judgement in 2019 ruled that individual cities or counties in Ohio can decide if owning chickens on a residential property is permissible or not. Depending on what city you live in you may or may not be able to own chickens in your background.

Below are a list of some of the most populous localities in Ohio and the laws relating to backyard chickens. These places include:

  • Columbus
  • Cleveland
  • Toledo

Columbus

If a person wishes to own chickens in Columbus then they must apply for a permit. The Columbus city website specifies exactly what people need to do and include when making a permit application submission. The information page can be found here.

The most relevant extract from the page is below :

Application for a Permit-Getting Started

· Anyone who wants to get a domestic animal requiring a permit, or already has a domestic animal requiring a permit, must submit an application form to Columbus Public Health.

· In addition to the application form, the following items will be required:

  • Plans and/or photographs with details on how the animal(s) will be caged or confined.
  • A written document describing the disinfection and cleaning schedule.
  • A written document outlining proper handling and care of the animal(s).
  • Permission to bring the animal(s) into the City.
  • An initial property inspection by Columbus Public Health.
  • Payment of the plan review fee.

Review of Application and Fees

· After an application is received, notice will be sent to the applicant outlining any other required items for the type of animal, license and fees.

· Permits and fees vary and depend on the license category and type of animal.

· Plan review fees and license fees are non-refundable.’

Cleveland

The second largest city in Ohio is known for it’s sport and music. What may not been known by outsiders is that the ‘Rock and Roll Capital of the World’ has a strong urban agriculture culture. This has a lot to day with the favorable urban farming regulations they have in place.

A document is present on the city’s website, details the rules around owning chickens and other animals. It relates to the city code and is entitled ‘347.02 Restrictions on the Keeping of Farm Animals and Bees’. If you want want to see here’s the link.

We’ve highlighted below the pieces from the document that relate to chicken ownership:

(b) Chickens, Ducks, Rabbits and Similar Animals. The keeping of chickens, ducks, rabbits and similar farm animals, and cages, coops and enclosures for the keeping of such animals, shall be governed by the following regulations.

(1) In Residential Districts. In Residential Districts, the following regulations shall apply.

  • A. Number. No more than one such animal shall be kept on a parcel of land for each 800 square feet of parcel or lot area. For a standard residential lot of 4,800 square feet, this regulation would permit no more than a total of six (6) such animals.
  • B. Setbacks. The coops or cages housing such animals may not be located in front yard or side street yard areas and shall not be located within five (5) feet of a side yard line nor within eighteen (18) inches of a rear yard line, except where the rear lot line forms the side lot line or front lot line of an abutting property, in which case the setback from such rear lot line shall be five (5) feet. No animals shall be kept in required front yard or side street yard areas.
  • C. Prohibitions. No roosters, geese or turkeys may be kept in a Residential District except on a parcel that is at least one (1) acre in area and only if the coop or cage housing the bird(s) is at least one hundred (100) feet from all property lines. For parcels greater than one (1) acre in area, one (1) additional such bird may be kept for each 24,000 square feet in excess of one (1) acre. No predatory birds may be kept on any property under the regulations of this Section.
  • D. Coops and Cages. All animals shall be provided with a covered, predator-proof coop or cage or other shelter that is thoroughly ventilated, designed to be easily accessed and cleaned, and of sufficient size to permit free movement of the animals, exclusive of areas used for storage of materials or vehicles. The total area of all coops or cages on a lot shall not be greater than thirty-two (32) square feet for up to six (6) animals. Coops and cages, singly or in combination, shall not exceed fifteen (15) feet in height.
  • E. Enclosures and Fences. Chickens and other birds shall have access to an outdoor enclosure adequately fenced or otherwise bounded to contain the birds on the property and to prevent access by dogs and other predators and providing at least ten (10) square feet of area for each bird.

(2) In Non-Residential Districts. In zoning districts other than Residential Districts, all regulations applicable in Residential Districts shall apply except that the number of such animals shall be limited to one (1) animal for each four hundred (400) square feet of lot area.’

Toledo

Toledo allows ownership of backyard chickens with certain conditions.

Chapter 1705 of the Toledo municipality code covers the rules relating to chicken ownership on residential properties. The ordinance that enacts those section can be found here.

The following highlights the main points from that document:

‘No person shall keep chickens unless the following conditions are met:  

  • (a)   Number. No more than six (6) hens shall be allowed for each single-family dwelling.    
  • (b)   Setbacks. Coops or cages housing chickens shall be kept at least twenty-five (25) feet from the door or window of any dwelling or occupied structure other than the owner’s dwelling. Coops and cages shall not be located within five (5) feet of a side-yard lot line, nor within eighteen inches of a rear-yard lot line. Coops and cages shall not be located in the front yard.    
  • (c)   Enclosure. Hens shall be provided with a covered, predator-proof coop or cage that is well-ventilated and designed to be easily accessed for cleaning. The coop shall allow at least one square foot per hen. Hens shall have access to an outdoor enclosure that is adequately fenced to contain the birds on the property.     
  • (d)   Sanitation. The coop and outdoor enclosure must be kept in a sanitary condition and free from offensive odors. The coop and outdoor enclosure must be cleaned on a regular basis to prevent accumulation of waste.  
  • (e)   Slaughtering. There shall be no outdoor slaughtering in the line of vision of any neighboring properties.    
  • (f)   Roosters. It is unlawful for any person to keep roosters.    
  • (g)   Permit. A permit shall not be required if the above conditions are met. If a person wishes to keep chickens in any manner that does not comply with this section, a permit will be required. An application for a permit must contain a thorough explanation of why a variance from these conditions is necessary. Such application will be filed with the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department which shall make a determination of whether to issue such permit and under such terms and conditions as are necessary to minimize any negative impacts on neighboring properties. Permits will be granted on an annual basis. If the city receives no complaints regarding the permit holder’s keeping of chickens, the permit will be presumptively renewed and the applicant may continue to keep chickens under the terms and conditions of the original permit. The Health Department may revoke the permit at any time if the permit holder does not follow the terms of the permit, if the Health Department receives substantiated complaints regarding the permit holder’s keeping of chickens, or the Health Department finds that the permit holder has not maintained the chicken coops or outdoor enclosures in a clean and sanitary condition. ‘

Conclusion on Ohio Backyard Chickens Laws

There are numerous cities in Ohio that allow the ownership of backyard chickens. In Cleveland, no more than one chicken shall be kept on a parcel of land for each 800 square feet of parcel or lot area. In Toledo, no more than six hens shall be allowed for each single-family dwelling.

To find out more about backyard chicken laws in cities that weren’t mentioned above, make sure to contact them directly.

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This article is written for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Sources

  • OCJ.com, Court Says City can ban Backyard Chickens (Nov 1, 2009)
  • Columbus Public Health, Fact Sheet (Domestic Animal Permits)
  • Lucas County Health Ord. 290-15 (2015)

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