The Triassi family had a problem. It seems that Parma has a zoning law, Article 10, subsection 165-82.BB, which states in part, no animals, other than ordinary household pets, shall be kept on any residential lot of three acres or less in any zone district. The Triassi lot is 1.6 acres. A neighbor’s complaint forced them to apply for a variance in order to stay within the law.
About two-and one-half years ago, April 22, 2009 to be exact, the Triassi girls, Sophia and Gia, obtained six hen chicks as part of a 4-H project. One of the chicks died soon after coming to the Triassi household. The girls exhibited a lot of interest in the hens as they all grew up in that time, even naming each one: Snow White is all white, Lucille is Red, Repunzel is gold, Roxanne is black and white and Tinkerbelle is brown and white.
On Thursday night, August 18, the Parma Zoning Board of Appeals met, with about 25 people in attendance. Three cases were dealt with in about an hour and then it became time to try the last case, the application of Robert and Lauri Triassi, for an area variance. There was some confusion about what kind of variance was proper and after some discussion by the board, Chairperson Robbilard declared that an area variance was appropriate.
In all, there were 13 individuals who spoke during the public forum, 11 in favor of the Traissi’s application and two, including the complaining neighbor, against. His main complaint was about noise in the early morning and the possibility that the chickens were bringing in some rodents and possibly coyotes. Proponents argued that the chickens weren’t’ capable of making much noise and that wildlife is not uncommon in the area.,
After closing the public hearing Chairperson Robbilard probed the fact that the previous owner of the Triassi’s residence had obtained an area variance to keep game birds on the back end of the premises. The variance was specific on the number and variety of birds to be accommodated and she looked at this requested variance as possibly an extension of the previous one. Owing to statements made by the complaining neighbor, there was an indication that having the chicken coop further back on the property, as was one with the previous owner’s animals, would make the situation palatable.
Board member Tim Thomas felt that the new variance could be extended over the old one. He exclaimed: “There’s an emotional issue here with the kids being involved,” a feeling shared by all the board members. Chairperson Robbilard asked whether an 18 month extension was feasible, worried about setting a precedent. Tim felt the previous variance was something to build on.
As a compromise, Tim, who is adept at phrasing board responses to applicants, proposed a variance with conditions, namely it would be a transition variance, good for 18 months, and the chicken coop should be moved so that it is no closer than 170 feet from the back of the house; that should occur by November 1. He indicated that this was an extraordinarily unique situation. Chairperson Robbilard added that this should be considered a modified variance and that it would extend till March 1, 2013. The motion was approved 4-0. It all took about an hour and forty five minutes.
Leaving the meeting Lauri stated: “Any reprieve for my children’s chickens, I am pleased with that. I’m very proud of my children.” Sophia was finally able to respond: “I feel happy because I love my chickens!”