Residents start petition to change ordinance on chickens

Measure restricts where the birds can be kept by owners

Courtesy of Mike Ancona. The township measure states that chickens – as classified in the township code – are only allowed on properties of five acres or more.

A group of Mantua residents wants to petition the township committee to make its ordinance on chickens less restrictive for current bird owners.

A petition has been started by resident Mike Ancona, who owns three hens named Cleo, Stormy and Toasty, and posted to

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Ancona and his wife own a coop in their backyard and are in danger of losing their birds because of the ordinance. His petition has garnered 2,295 signatures – the goal is 2,500 – as of July 24.

The township measure states that chickens – which are classified as livestock in Chapter 120 of the township code – are only allowed on Mantua properties of five acres or more.

“Unfortunately,” said Ancona, “due to misinterpreting the verbiage of our current ordinance and how it lists livestock, we have been contacted by the township office and instructed by our zoning official that chickens are actually not allowed in our zoning district.

“We are being forced to rehome our three girls.”

Residents have signed Ancona’s petition for reasons that include their belief in   homesteading as a fundamental right. It has also garnered the attention of a candidate for the Mantua committee, Republican Courtney Bracken.

“This has devastated my wife and son,” Ancona noted. “The girls know their names, recognize us and are as happy to see us as we are near them. To say we are attached to them would be an understatement, and we are struggling to know why we don’t have a final say on what we keep in our own backyard.”

The general township code related to animals refers mainly to cats, dogs and other domesticated animals, not chickens. 

With current laws in place, the Anconas will have to abide by Section 7 of  Chapter 120 and house their chickens in a safe place that is not overcrowded. It should be situated no less than 10 feet from any adjacent property line and in accordance with applicable zoning requirements. 

The birds would also have to be tethered to something in a humane fashion, be prevented from running at large and be enclosed in an area with fencing no less than 4 feet high.

“We are hoping to start a positive change in Mantua Township’s zoning ordinance and allow residents to have pet chickens,” Ancona insisted. “We know that there are some people that will be against this. 

“Some of their reasons may be due to misinformation or previous experiences they’ve had with irresponsible pet owners, but everyone shouldn’t be punished because of one or two bad eggs.”

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