Monique Smith wrote:
The problem with the news of the backyard hen pilot program is that the mayor and his administration didn't involve city council in a single word of the discussions or the planning that they have apparently been having for quite a while about it. In fact, it's only because of the news that has been reported in the Observer that I even know about this pilot, and I'm a member of Lakewood city council. Pretty sad, eh?
To make it worse, when I reached out to the city's Director of Planning and Development several weeks ago to ask about the rumor that a pilot was in progress or being planned, the only response I received was that there was "no pilot"... and that was after more than one request for the information. So much for transparency and collaboration.
It breaks my heart to say this, because I once publicly supported the campaign of our current mayor and genuinely believed he would bring a very beneficial management style to city hall, but here's the thing: The mayor and some members of his administration are showing increasingly worrisome signs that they have no regard for council or some members of the public in Lakewood who may have opinions that differ from theirs. This backyard hen question is only one example in a pattern that I've been observing and have been worrying quite a bit about. I'm sure the mayor knows that there are members of council and the public who oppose the idea of backyard chickens in a city as densely populated and burdened with extremely serious housing issues (and few resources to handle them) as Lakewood. So how did he choose to deal with that potentially contentious issue? By completely excluding ALL of us from the discussion about this pilot. I regret that I have to take this complaint to the public rather than speaking with the mayor about it, but I feel that I'm left with no choice when members of council are excluded from these kinds of conversations at city hall.
One of my chief concerns about this pilot is that the mayor has said that housing is one of his top priorities, yet he has unilaterally chosen to increase the burden on our housing department and city resources by adding chickens to the residential landscape. It doesn't make sense to me. I'd like the opportunity to hear how it makes sense to him.
I sincerely respect the point of view and efforts of backyard hen supporters in Lakewood because I know that their intention is to provide a new means of making healthy, fresh food accessible to Lakewoodites. However, based on what I know of our city's housing situation, including issues that I see in my own neighborhood every day, and what our city is facing in terms of resource constraints, I can't support the inclusion of chickens in our residential landscape. Though our city has some similarities to other urban areas that allow backyard chickens, we also have many key differences and very unique challenges to manage. While the City of Cleveland may have some very appropriate conditions for raising backyard chickens, Lakewood simply does not.
Thank you to the publishers of the Observer and the readers of this forum for giving me a place to share my opinion on this. Unfortunately, I haven't had the same opportunity at city hall.
For some of the reasons you mentioned, I also think our mayor is making a mistake regarding the raising of backyard chickens. But let's look at the ordinance that I believe our mayor is following: 505.18 CERTAIN ANIMALS PROHIBITED.
(a) No person shall knowingly keep, maintain or have in his possession or under his control within the City any dangerous or carnivorous wild animal or reptile, any vicious domesticated animal, or any other animal or reptile, with vicious or dangerous propensities, except to the extent that an exemption may be applicable pursuant to subsections (c) or (d) hereof.
(b) For the purposes of this section, there shall be an irrebuttable presumption, that, when kept or maintained within the City, the animals listed below are considered dangerous animals to which the prohibition of subsection (a) hereof, in the absence of an exemption pursuant to subsections (c) or (d) hereof, applies:
(1) All crotalid, elapid and venomous colubroid snakes;
(2) Apes; Chimpanzees (Pan); gibbons (hylobates); gorillas (Gorilla); orangutans (Pongo); and siamangs (Symphalangus);
(3) Baboons (Papoi, Manrillus);
(4) Bears (Ursidae);
(5) Bovines (Bovidae), includes all members of the bovine family, for example goats, sheep, bison and buffalo;
(6) Cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus);
(7) Crocodilians (Crocodilia);
(8) Constrictor snakes when fourteen feet in length or more;
(9) Coyotes (Canis latrans);
(10) Deer (Cervidae), includes all members of the deer family, for example, white-tailed deer, elk, antelope and moose;
(11) Elephants (Elephas and Loxodonta);
(12) Foxes (Canis vulpes);
(13) Gamecocks and other fighting birds;
(14) Hippopotami (Hippopotamidae);
(15) Horses (Equidae), includes all members of the horse family, for example donkeys, mules and zebras;
(16) Hyenas (Hyaenidae); .
(17) Jaguars (Panthera onca);
(18) Leopards (Panthera pardus);
(19) Lions (Panthera leo);
(20) Lynxes (Lynx);
(21) Monkeys, old world (Cercopithecidae);
(22) Ostriches (Struthio);
(23) Piranha fish (Characidae);
(24) Puma (Felis concolor), also known as cougars, mountain lions and panthers;
(25) Rhinoceroses (Rhinocerotidae);
(26) Sharks (class Chondrichthyes);
(27) Snow leopards (Panthera uncia);
(28) Swine (Suidae), including Pot-bellied pigs;
(29) Tigers (Panthera tigris);
(30) Wolves (Canis lupus), including wolf hybrids; (31) All game birds, including but not limited to, water fowl, chickens, roosters, ducks, geese, turkeys and common pigeon (other than a homing pigeon).
(c) Licensed pet shops, menageries, zoological gardens, and circuses shall be exempt from the provisions of subsections (a) and (b) hereof if all of the following conditions are applicable:
(1) The location conforms to the provisions of the City Zoning Code;
(2) All animals and animal quarters are kept in a clean and sanitary condition and so maintained as to eliminate objectionable odors;
(3) Animals are maintained in quarters so constructed as to prevent their escape; and
(4) No person resides within fifty feet of the quarters in which the animals are kept. (d) Notwithstanding any of the foregoing, the Director of Public Safety may grant a specific exemption, on a temporary or permanent basis, from any of the provisions of this section to any person with a legitimate scientific, educational, commercial or other purpose for maintaining the prohibited animals, in accordance with the following provisions:
(1) Written application for exemption shall be filed by any person desiring to obtain an exemption with the Director of Public Safety. The application shall state the applicant's name, address, type and number of animals desired to be kept, general purpose for which the animals will be kept, and a general description of provisions which will be made for safe, sanitary and secure maintenance of the animals.
(2) The Director of Public Safety may grant, deny or restrict the terms of an application for exemption; provided, however, that he shall take some official action on an application within 120 days of its filing.
(3) In considering the merits of an application for exemption, the Director of Public Safety may cause one or more inspections of the applicant's premises to be made by appropriate employees or representatives of the City, and may also refer the application to persons who are technically knowledgeable with respect to the animals involved for an advisory opinion.
(4) In evaluating an application for exemption, the Director of Public Safety shall give consideration to the following criteria:
A. The experience and knowledge of the applicant relative to the animals involved;
B. Whether the applicant has obtained a federal or state permit relative to the animals involved;
C. The relative danger, safety, and health risks to the general public, to persons residing or passing near the applicant's premises, and to the applicant in connection with the animals involved;
D. The provisions which have been or will be made for the safe, sanitary and secure maintenance of the animals for the protection of the general public, persons residing or passing near the applicant's premises, and the applicant;
E. The provisions which have been or will be made to protect the safety and health of the animals involved;
F. Any other logically relevant information.
(5) An application for exemption under this subsection (d) shall be denied unless the Director of Public Safety determines that, in view of all the relevant criteria and any restrictions which he may provide, reasonably appropriate measures commensurate with the degree of risk associated with the animals involved have been or will be taken to assure at least a minimum acceptable level of protection from danger to the health and safety of the general public, persons residing or passing near the applicant's premises, and the applicant.
(6) An exemption granted pursuant to this subsection (d) may be withdrawn by action of the Director of Public Safety in the event that the Director of Public Safety determines that there has been a change in the conditions or assumptions under which it was originally granted or in the event that the applicant fails to comply with restrictions originally placed on the exemption.
(e) No exemption granted pursuant to any paragraph of this section shall be construed, nor is it intended by the City as a guaranty or warranty of any kind, whether express or implied to any person, including without limitation the general public, persons residing or passing near the applicant's premises, or the applicant, either in general or individually, as to the danger, or lack thereof, or degree of risk to health or safety of any animal, specifically or generally, or any premises where any animal is maintained or kept pursuant to such exemption.
(f) Whoever violates any of the provisions of this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor. A separate offense shall be as deemed committed for each day during or on which a violation occurs or continues.
(Ord. 44-04. Passed 6-21-04; Ord. 34-11. Passed 7-18-11.)What role does council play regarding this ordinance? Do you feel this chicken issue should follow the same process that allowed dogs in the parks?