Source: Cincinnati Business Courier
By Chris Wetterich
The Cincinnati Planning Commission voted unanimously Friday to make it easier for residents and businesses to keep animals for farming purposes, establish community gardens and compost, among other urban agricultural issues.
For two years, the city and a steering committee looked at how to streamline its policies on urban agriculture in the zoning code because of expanded interest by residents and a complex web of regulations.
The amendments to the zoning code will allow farming as a right of property owners and also will only restrict animal keeping based on the density of property. They will require City Council approval.
The amendments to the zoning code are designed to allow small- and large-scale farms and community gardens to provide more food to the city, according to the planning staff report.
“There is insufficient coverage in the code and what exists is too restrictive and scattered throughout it, making it hard to find and read,” according to the planning commission’s report. The city’s building department “has experienced a huge increase in demand by urban agriculture professionals and the everyday property owners alike for better direction and regulations.”
Does that mean your next door neighbor will be allowed to have a goat in the back yard? If their lot size is less than 10,000 square feet, they would be allowed to have two goats that must be contained five feet from the property line and have a shelter of at least 20 square feet per goat. A property owner with more than 20,000 square feet could have a maximum of eight goats.
More common are people who want to keep chickens or other small birds that lay eggs. For a property of less than 10,000 square feet, owners can have six chickens that must be contained and have a shelter of four square feet per chicken.
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Garrett Gerard, vice president of the Sayler Park Council, said the new regulations would help, but that the city also will need to grandfather in non-nuisance properties whose chicken coops may not be far enough from the property line (the new regulations specify 10 feet). Urban farming is more common in Sayler Park because of larger lots, he said.
“They’re much loved people,” Gerard said of urban farmers. “They’re throwing (giving people) eggs all over the neighborhood.”
Other advocates praised the changes. The city has tens of thousands of hobby gardens, said Larry Falkin, the city’s director of environment and sustainability, with dozens deriving some income from them. There are 40 city-owned parcels currently used for urban agriculture, he said.
“There’s a little bit of money and a lot of sweat toward making a good growing lot out of a vacant lot,” Falkin said.