VIDEO: City Council Challenges 'Hens in Lakewood' Pilot Project
Council members examine reversal of mayor’s exemption to ordinance banning chickens in the city.
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
That’s the lesson learned by Cherise Condi Sims and two other Lakewood families who were given permission by Lakewood Mayor Michael Summers to move forward with a pilot project to raise a few hens in their backyards.
On Monday, a measure was introduced at city council that would take away the mayor’s ability to make an exemption on the ordinance banning chickens in the city.
Hens in Lakewood members have spent the past several months working with the city's Animal Safety and Welfare Advisory Board, which gave its unanimous support in September.
Dozens of Lakewood residents attended Monday's city council meeting to discuss an ordinance that would reverse the mayor's ability to allow a pilot project that would allow hens in the city.
Most of them spoke out against council's attempt stop the pilot project.
At-large councilman Brian Powers, who introduced the legislation, gave a few reasons why he supports the ordinance.
"I have very clear views about the separation of powers between the various branches of government," he said. "It makes no sense to write a law but then say at the end that they mayor can override the law at any time for any reason. What if every law we passed at the end said 'hey, the mayor can exempt anyone from this law at any time for any reason?' It just doesn't make sense."
Ward 2 councilman Tom Bullock said he opposed Powers' proposal, and noted that he supports Summers' decision to grant an exemption for a pilot project.
"(If rejected) it would send a terrible message to the public, and set a terrible precedent — however unintentional — to residents who have put in time, effort, care, research, money, good faith and who have conducted themselves openly and publicly," he said.
Sims said she and the other participants have taken classes on urban chicken farming at the Ohio State University Extension program. Members of the organization Hens in Lakewood have hoped to educate council members on the issue.
Some members of council said they only found out about the proposal when they read the story last week on Lakewood Patch. However, Hens in Lakewood members said they have sent numerous emails and left several voicemails for council members since Patch first reported the proposal in July.
Council voted on Monday night to discuss the issue further. Meanwhile, the Hens in Lakewood pilot project is on hold.