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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  in their backyards.

On Monday, a measure was introduced at 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 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 .

Council voted on Monday night to discuss the issue further. Meanwhile, the Hens in Lakewood pilot project is on hold.

Peter Grossetti November 22, 2011 at 01:14 PM
I don't envy the position Mayor Summers is in right now. I say that because the ordinance (51-11) designed to strip the mayor of his authority to grant an exemption in this case was set sent to the Committee of the Whole for further discussion and NOT voted into effect at the Monday 11/21/11 Council meeting. Thus, Mayor Summers maintains authority to grant exemptions to the three pilot families he promised after meeting with them last week. Our Mayor now has a huge decision to make. Here are the two options as I see them. (I would love to hear other options, but this is how I see it) 1.) He keeps his word to those three families and puts the exemption letter in the mail THIS morning. This way he is deemed a honorable man by sticking to his word but at the same time sends quite a message to Council. YOU, dear read, can probably figure our what that message is! 2.) He does NOT send the letters to the three families. By choosing this option, loses face/credibility and presents the illusion that all this political posturing we heard about at City Hall over the past week was just a well-choreographed charade with Council as his dance partner ... oh, AND he sends quite a message to Citizens Committee for Hens in Lakewood. Again, I won't say what that message is; but you all can connect the dots. I wish Mayor Summers him strength and courage.
Angel Whitman Neal November 22, 2011 at 02:34 PM
Everyone on Council was invited on NUMEROUS occasions to become part of the pilot proposal and give their input. The majority of them wouldn't give us the time of day to even acknowledge the invitations. Many scoffed at Lakewood's citizens idea of having hens. Now, Council wants to change an ordinance that they approved in July only AFTER citizens decide to utilize it. Don't let Lakewood become City Council's definition of what they PERSONALLY BELIEVE our city should be. Support Mayor Summers approval of the pilot project exemption.
Steve November 22, 2011 at 06:11 PM
So let me get this straight. If I want to petition the Mayor, or Safety Director, about doing a responsible thing like adopting a pit bull puppy mix from the Cleveland shelter, which they now legally have, he might be able to allow me to do this. But if council gets their way, they will strip that ability from him. This seems very anti government and anti citizen. Any thoughts concerning this?
Angel Whitman Neal November 22, 2011 at 06:19 PM
Absolutely correct Steve. Council approved the ordinance, as written, in July. No one had any objections until a group of citizens decided to act upon the law. The worst part is that you and the Mayor both have your rights revoked by following the law like all good citizens, administrators, and LEGISLATORS should.
Angel Whitman Neal November 22, 2011 at 07:05 PM
Wow Ravenna Miceli on 107.3 gave a shot out in support of hen keeping in Lakewood!! : )
Brandon Scullion November 22, 2011 at 11:00 PM
The mayor’s last comment at the end of the video, "there is much to learn about it", is very poignant. I think more than anything it applies to some of the council members and their power play. They too have a few things to learn. To Tom Bullock, I say thank you. Thank you for standing up for those in support of this issue who simply want to see if this is a viable option for Lakewood. It seems to me that those on the council who oppose it want our local government to function more like the federal government. You know, the one where nothing can get done, problems don't get solved and progress is delayed if not reversed.
Steve November 23, 2011 at 08:32 PM
@Brandon. I wish the mayor, when he was a councilman pushing the Pit Bull Agenda, would have used that comment "there is much to learn about it", as a stepping stone to listen, really listen to some of the experts that were against this. We don't tell him how to run his business, but yet that is what he did along with most of council,with the responsible citizens and Pit Bull Owners. Thats a Power Play against the good people of Lakewood. Only THEY know the real motive behind this. But they wont tell US.

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