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  • Doug Smith

Update on backyard chickens

Recently, I conducted outreach to gather feedback from Worthington residents about potentially modifying the current ordinance to reduce restrictions on backyard chickens. I gave an overview presentation at a Council meeting with the results of my outreach.

Currently, the City of Worthington allows backyards chickens under Ordinance 505.08 (Nuisance Conditions Prohibited). This ordinance states “chickens may not be kept anywhere within the City within 150 feet of any residence.” It also addresses general concerns and prohibits “offensive odors, excessive noise or unsanitary conditions.”


Ordinance 505.08 already provides a mechanism for residents to have backyards chickens. It also provides an enforcement method and penalties. However, there are few properties in Worthington that accommodate the current 150 feet distance requirement – essentially making it prohibitive for most residents.

I researched similar communities to see what policies exist relating to backyard chickens. Whereas many communities throughout Ohio allow backyard chickens, the two most similar to communities to Worthington are Bexley and Independence. Their policies are:

Bexley: 10 feet from property line

Independence: 15 feet from property line

After reaching out to both cities, they reported no complaints and no citations regarding chickens.


In Worthington, the feedback showed strong support for a more inclusive backyard chicken policy. Approximately 60 percent of respondents support a backyard chicken policy with no space requirements, and 10 percent are unsure.

The 30 percent who did not support this statement were mainly concerned about noise and odor issues. It is important to remember that the city’s current ordinance prohibits and addresses noise and odor issues.

Proposed modifications

I propose modifying the current space restrictions from “Chickens may not be kept anywhere within the City within 150 feet of any residence” to “Chickens may not be kept anywhere within the City within 30 feet of any residence and within 10 feet of the nearest residential boundary.” (505.08)

This proposal will allow more residents to have backyard chickens, if desired, while providing distance from neighboring houses and from neighboring property lines.


(a) No person shall cause or allow any place where an animal is kept to become unclean or unwholesome. No person shall keep any swine, sheep or goats in the City. Horses and cattle and chickens may not be kept anywhere within the City within 150 feet of any residence, other than the residence of the person keeping such animals or fowl.


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