Of Chickens and Cities

In Cleveland, the rise of urban agriculture has spurred new regulations intended to help farmers raise chickens or bees. Some fear, however, the newly created red tape makes it more difficult.
December 20, 2008, 9am PST | Mike Lydon
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"Faced with resurrecting a city built for a million but populated with half that now, Cleveland's City Council continues to tweak its idea of what Cleveland could and should be. And Gather 'round stands ready beneath the skyline's shadow to fill in yet another of the Rust Belt's gaping cracks.

If you're already raising chickens or bees in Cleveland, you're probably breaking the law. Any hive or coop is supposed to be at least 100 feet from adjoining properties. City Planning Director Bob Brown notes, 'It would be almost impossible to find a residential lot that would allow you to place a coop or hive that far from your neighbor's property.'

The new law would change that, requiring just 5 feet of side setback and 18 inches of rear setback for coops and hives. But there are new constraints too: The law would limit the number of chickens to one per 800 square feet of property (that's six chickens for the average 4,800-square-foot lot) and one beehive per 2,400 square feet. Roosters would get the boot completely unless you've got a full acre. ("It's not gender discrimination," says Brown. "They tend to be noisier than their female colleagues.")

Perhaps the most contentious changes: licensing and building department requirements, lot diagramming and new fees to pay for the added oversight. Brown says, however, that if coops are kept smaller than 8 feet high and 30 feet square, building fees can be waived. But there still would be a permit fee of around $40."

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Published on Thursday, December 18, 2008 in The Cleveland Free Times
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