Commission holds off on decision on small livestock in Youngstown

By Ashley Luthern


The city’s planning commission agreed Tuesday to hold off on recommending a new redevelopment and zoning plan to city council after hearing from residents about policies on small livestock and bees.

City residents and members of the Mahoning Valley Food Policy Council told the commission they support a simplified process where residents go to one department to get small-livestock approval instead of the current method of going through the health department, planning commission, public hearings and then city council, which approves such permits on a case-by-case basis.

Sophia Buggs is preparing an eight-lot farm on the city’s South Side for “Lady Buggs Garden.”

“I want to raise hens and bees. This is all about eating local and having access to fresh food,” she said.

Buggs and other supporters said the commission could impose limits on the number of animals and regulate the coops, including their distance from residential structures.

“If I can only have three chickens, that’s fine,” she said.

The redevelopment-code draft first was released in February, revamping and streamlining the section on small livestock and specifically excluded roosters as a nuisance. In the most recent version, the language reverted back to the original case-by-case policy.

The Mahoning Valley Food Policy Council submitted a letter Tuesday that stated guidelines for cleanliness, and provisions that prohibit roaming animals could allay some concerns.

It also noted that Cleveland allows six chickens per standard-sized lots while Canton and Columbus allow an unlimited number as long as the coop is 50 and 100 feet, respectively, from a street.

John B. Slanina of Youngstown said the change would show the city is progressive and added it likely would save costs in the health department.

“This would have a minimal impact in neighborhoods. ... This can always be rescinded if it’s being abused,” he said.

But Councilman John R. Swierz, 7th Ward, disagreed, saying the city already has trouble with its dog ordinances, and livestock would be no different. He also said he expects more noise from small livestock.

“We need to tread on this very lightly. I think it will be a complaint in the neighborhoods,” he said.

Law Director Anthony Farris suggested moving the redevelopment code to next month’s agenda, and the commission agreed and said it will take public comments in the interim before deciding on a recommendation.

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