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Suburban Sheffield Lake Tackling Poultry Problems

Sheffield Lake is a small suburb of about 9,000 people living in about two and a half square miles, according to Mayor Dennis Bring.

In such a densely populated, compact space, the town really needs to manage the chickens.

“When you take that many people and put 50-foot lots – which are not very wide lots – and you start having animals, on 50-foot lots, anything that effects your neighbor becomes a problem, and that’s why we should have some rules in place,” he says.

But a proposal limiting residents to four poultry – including chickens, turkeys, geese, emus or ostriches – packed chambers when the council met July 23. Violators would be charged with a misdemeanor and fined $150.

Supporters complained about roosters crowing throughout the day and odors so foul they couldn’t sit outside in their own yards. Those opposing the ordinance wondered what would happen to the poultry they already owned.

Much of the controversy centered around the 600 block of Dunny Avenue. At the July council meeting, Elise Sheehan spoke to council on behalf of her mother-in-law, who lives on the block. Sheehan claimed a neighbor had “12 chickens… three roosters, four turkeys, 10-12 geese … and 16 outbuildings.”

Sheehan said her mother-in-law can’t open doors or windows and has not been able to use the pool for two years because of the smell.

Other local fowl owners said the law would punish them, even though are law-abiding bird owners.

“I know the house you’re talking about on Dunny and it’s bad,” said Tammy Davis of Lakewood Beach Drive. “But the rest of us shouldn’t be held responsible because of her.”

If council approves the law, residents like Davis would be allowed to keep their birds. But they couldn’t replace them if it means the flock would exceed the new limits.

The proposal is the Sheffield Lake’s latest attempt to handle problems of backyard chickens. In 2006, Sheffield expanded its noise ordinance originally written for barking dogs to include crowing roosters.

Bring says the city cited someone for an illegally crowing rooster “just the other day.”

Neighborhood chickens have presented even more serious problems than noise and foul odors around Ohio and many other states this summer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials are investigating multiple outbreaks of salmonella infections linked to backyard poultry. A total of 768 people in 48 states have been infected this summer, according to a July 19 CDC press release.

Of those cases, 122 have been hospitalized and two people have died, one in Texas and one in Ohio’s south-central Scioto County.

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