Pigeons-back yard birds about to be evicted

Discussion in 'Pigeons and Doves' started by Markp1964, Dec 10, 2007.

  1. Markp1964

    Markp1964 In the Brooder

    Sep 4, 2007
    This article about a homing pigeon keeper who may lose his birds appeared on the front page of our paper today.
    I've attached the text below-or cut and paste this link to see the article with pictures:http://www.dispatch.com/live/conten...hole.ART_ART_12-10-07_A1_BD8NB8O.html?sid=101

    Pets or pests? Homing pigeon coop riles neighbors
    Dublin man's homing-pigeon coop riles neighbors, prompts lawsuit
    Monday, December 10, 2007 3:06 AM
    By Dean Narciso


    For four years, Yijing Sun has raised his homing pigeons in a coop in his Dublin backyard, but his neighbors say the coop violates deed rules.
    Five days a week, Yijing Sun drives to his job with a cooing cadre of homing pigeons in the back seat.

    At day's end, he leaves the Marysville Reformatory for Women, where he manages recreation programs, and heads to his car.

    The birds take to the sky.

    He admires them as they fly away, but they are not so well-received at their destination.

    Hours later, the 17 pigeons drop to the landing of an 8-foot-tall coop 20 miles away in the backyard of Sun's Dublin home. They enter a one-way door and feed, sleep and preen.

    "That's the fun," said Sun, with a boyish grin and enthusiasm that belie his 59 years. "No other pets can come back so loyally -- so exhausted, they just want to come home. That's amazing."

    Homing pigeons are Sun's hobby, one he learned as a 12-year-old in Beijing. He loves the peaceful birds, saying he has learned from their relaxed, reliable nature in the four years he has housed them in a hutch built with excess lumber from a neighbor's deck project.

    The cycle would continue if not for a group of his Dublin neighbors who say the coop violates deed restrictions in their Lowell Trace subdivision.

    His homeowners association told him in 2003 that outside structures such as coops and sheds are not permitted. Dublin already had given him permission to build the 6-by-6-foot coop.

    But it's unclear whether Dublin should have allowed the coop.

    According to Dublin's zoning laws, only rural districts, not residential, allow farming, horticulture or animal husbandry, including raising pigeons.

    A building permit was issued in error, according to a city memo. So the city told Sun in October that the pigeons would have to go.

    Sun then appealed the decision to the Board of Zoning Appeals, setting up a stalemate until the appeal is resolved.

    Meanwhile, the Lowell Trace Homeowners Association filed a lawsuit against Sun, claiming he is in violation of deed restrictions and asking that he remove the coop.

    Sun considers his pigeons household pets and said his neighbors are exaggerating the nuisance.

    "This is not so serious a topic," he said from his family room overlooking the coop. "The key is not to bother others."

    Neighbors say he is doing just that.

    "If he wants to raise pigeons in cages in his basement, just like a parrot, he wouldn't have a squawk with me," said Steve Seggebruch, a 15-year resident.

    "I don't know what he's trying to prove," said Jeffrey J. Onesti, who moved to the neighborhood in June. "Your neighbors are mad at you, your wife is against you, there's a lawsuit against you. Is it really worth it?"

    About 100 homeowners each pay $45 in annual dues to maintain the community. That money now goes for litigation.

    Chris Cline, the association's attorney, said it should enforce its deed restrictions or risk losing them. As communities allow exceptions, rules become harder to enforce in the future, he said.

    Sun concedes that his wife, Tian Wei, is not a fan of the pigeons. And he said he's sorry that the dispute has become personal with his neighbors. But he's convinced it's worth fighting.

    "We should have practiced increased cultural understanding. I think that would be better."

    Some of his neighbors agree.

    "I don't think your homing pigeons bother anyone," David and Robyn Frid wrote in a letter of support to Sun. "I didn't even know they were there."

    Even if the association wins the lawsuit, Onesti said, it might lose the battle.

    "The guy can't even get rid of the pigeons," he said, "because they'll just come back."
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2007
  2. Markp1964

    Markp1964 In the Brooder

    Sep 4, 2007
    Some background-Dublin is a suburb of the state capital, Columbus. The city of Columbus itself is a no chicken in residential areas kind of town, and the northern suburbs of Dublin ,Worthington , New Albany and Wesetrville are very up tight about zoning and lousy with fascist home owner assosciations.
    Anyone who feels like submitting a letter to the editor ought to help raise the point that well cared for animals are good neighbors. Here's the letter I sent:
    To the Editor:
    The article headlined “Pets or Pests” caught my interest. The situation that Dublin resident Yijing Sun finds himself in, namely the possibility that he may have to give up pet birds that are harmless and inoffensive points to the general lack of respect for property ownership rights that happens when zoning ordinances and home owner associations combine to control neighborhoods. Such controls seem more geared to preventing any possible offense to neighbors while taking away rights of a property owner who may be engaged in a hobby or use of land that is uncommon or different from their neighbors.
    Several of Sun’s neighbors are quoted in the article as objecting to the birds he keeps, but none voices a real concern only a toothless objection. Is there an issue of noise or odor Then the neighbors may have a legitimate grievance, but none of these facts are mentioned in the article. It certainly seems that the neighbors are upset simply because Sun’s pets are rather uncommon and not the dog or canary that his neighbors find more palatable. I certainly have no sympathy for the neighbor who has just moved in June, after Sun’s pigeons had been in residence for more than three years. Why object to a situation in the neighbor hood that existed when you moved in? IF it was objectionable the proper course is to look for a home elsewhere. No one in their right mind would buy a house next to the railroad tracks and expect the property to be quiet and peaceful. I learned that rule of property selection the hard way when I moved next to a family that had both a swimming pool and teenagers
    It was very heartening to see that there was another viewpoint expressed, by some folks who can be described truly as open minded and good neighbors, who stated they have no problem with the birds and didn’t even know they were there! From the looks of the photograph that ran with the article, the loft that the pigeons are housed in looks clean and well kept, and is not a dirty nuisance or an ugly eyesore. It seems like there is very little to object to there.
    According to the article, Dublin has zoning laws in place that limit farming, horticulture and animal husbandry, specifically those pursuits are not permitted in residential areas. If homing pigeons, which will not be eaten, sold, or otherwise processed are considered agriculture, would any of Sun’s neighbors who have a vegetable or herb patch in their back yard also doing something illegal?
    My neighborhood in Westerville has similar restrictions, and I was unable to get a clear answer from the powers that be about were then line between pet and farm animal, between hobby and agriculture really is. My family and I had become interested in raising a mico-flock of chickens(two or three birds). Keeping hens in suburban and urban areas has become a documented trend, as people rediscover what interesting animals these birds are, pleasing to look and an amusing to have around. And obviously a rather practical pet, because they can give eggs that are tastier and more healthful than those bought commercially. Cities like New York and San Francisco, and a variety of communities both small and large allow the keeping of small flocks of hens, and websites and magazines have sprung up to unite the faithful and provide them with information. And as with any American trend, there is money to be spent-and made. The Eglu is a high tech molded plastic hutch that provides space for two or three very pampered chickens, and looks as if it were designed by the folks who developed the IMac.
    The difficulty is that agriculture is prohibited in my neighborhood, and there is a similar restriction in my property deed against livestock. But that deed restriction specifically mentions household pets are permitted. I have spoken to a zoning inspector, the chief of zoning, a city council member and the city attorney, and neither was forthcoming about a hard and fast definition of what is a pet and what is a farm animal. Indeed, after a long phone conversation with the zoning chief I could see that his personal opinion and prejudices were more in evidence than any logical application of the rule of law. It was very clear he had no experience with chickens that were not on a plate, he really believed that my neighbors would object to the noise and smell, as if I were going to create a Buckeye Egg Farm nightmare in my backyard. Three hens would likely never be noticed in a fenced backyard, making less mess and far less noise than any dog. The fact is that chickens or any animal that is well cared for will be clean and unobjectionable in any way. It is only when the raising of animals is turned into a commercial enterprise on a massive scale, totally contrary to the practices of good husbandry, that noise and smell become issues. That stinking, unhealthy factory level production is the way that most eggs, poultry, beef, milk and pork is produced in the US today.
    My basic argument, still unanswered, is like this: each summer I have 6 tomato plants, 4 sweet peppers, 5 fig trees, a patch of lettuce and Swiss chard and a variety of herbs in my backyard. If that level of horticulture is not farming, how can three chickens that have names and would live in a little cute little coop that looks like a doll house be considered agriculture? Such a flock would be less work, less noise, less nuisance and less offensive than any dog, and in most ways less offensive than many pets people keep in their house.
    Beyond the petty tyranny of laws that are based only partly on reason and manly on panic, and home owner associations that aim to create cookie cutter neighborhoods, the real break down here is that suburban residents have forgotten how to be neighbors. I expect that my neighbors can do what they like on their property and hope for the same courtesy, and as long as it causes me no real hardship or inconvenience they and their pets can do what they like. It certainly seems like the idea of “live and let live” goes out the window when the neighborhood watch and the zoning inspector get involved.

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