North Olmsted May Ban Domestic Farm Animals on Small Lots

by Joe Noga

North Olmstead officials are considering legislation that would prohibit residents from keeping domestic farm animals on lots less than one acre.

Under the measure introduced at Tuesday's council meeting, keeping animals such as goats, sheep, chickens, swine or horses on such lots would constitute a nuisance condition and could earn the offender a fourth-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $250 fine.
Law Director Michael Gareau said the city's position is that keeping such animals on lots less than an acre is inconsistent with other smaller lots.
"These lots are 50 feet wide and perhaps 150 feet deep," Gareau said. "It's just inconsistent with that type of a neighborhood. By virtue of odor, by virtue of sound, you name it."
The ordinance covers goats, sheep, swine, cows, turkeys, chickens or other fowl, horses or mules, alpaca, and llama. Under the proposal, it would be a violation to harbor, raise or possess such animals.
Gareau said a nuisance condition will be deemed to exist when police or building department officials observe sounds or odors consistent with domestic farm animals; when they observe signs of habitation on the premises, including presence of food or shelter; observe damage to property; or when they observe odor of feces
The law also provides for the city to remove the animals at the offender's expense, to relocate the animals to suitable agricultural facilities or otherwise order they be humanely destroyed by a qualified veterinarian.
Gareau said in particular the rearing and possessing of animals is inconsistent with neighborhoods where there are people living in close proximity with each other.
"If you've got an acre lot, that's more appropriate," he said. "But you can't have somebody in Bretton Ridge with a cow in their back yard."
Gareau said passage of the ordinance does not necessarily mean somebody from the building department will come along and slap a citation on a violator's door. He said the city usually makes several efforts to get a violator to comply.
"We don't want you to have to get rid of a cow in five minutes," Gareau said. "We will work extremely hard to remedy the problem. And after that we'll end up in court."