COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – Columbiana City Council debated a long-standing rule Tuesday night that’s been the topic of a lot of controversy.

Columbiana law set in the 1970s addresses what residents can and cannot keep on their own property. The law has largely been ignored until now, creating months and months of back and forth between council and residents.

But Mayor Bryan Blakeman said the law is very straightforward and that residents are not understanding it.

The dispute started when a Columbiana man said he wanted to raise white tailed deer on his property. Under Columbiana city law, that is illegal.

The problem was, once council said “no” to the white tailed deer, they also had to say “no” to other animals on that prohibited list — including chickens.

Council members Dan Bekar and Skip Liston both voiced their support of the ordinance.

Mayor Blakeman went on to read most of the ordinance.

The ordinance states, “uses which are omitted from this zoning code which are not specifically permitted shall be considered prohibited.”

The full ordinance states:

(a) No building shall be erected, converted, enlarged, reconstructed or structurally altered, nor shall any building or land be used, arranged to be used or designed to be used, in a manner which does not comply with all of the district provisions established by this Zoning Code for the district in which the building or land is located. Uses which are omitted from this Zoning Code which are not specifically permitted shall be considered prohibited until deemed otherwise by the Planning Commission or until, by amendment, such uses are written into this Zoning Code. A determination of whether or not a use is specifically permitted, by virtue of being similar in character to a specifically permitted use in the district, shall be made by the Commission, based on the purpose of the district regulations and this Zoning Code. No land shall be occupied or used and no building hereafter erected, altered or extended shall be used or changed in use until a certificate of occupancy has been issued by the Building Department stating that the building or proposed use thereof complies with this Zoning Code.

(b) No liquid waste injection disposal wells and support structures are permitted or conditionally permitted uses within the City.

(Ord. 74-O-128, passed 10-17-1974; Ord. 12-O-2704, passed 10-16-2012)

But Mayor Blakeman said this issue actually refers to buildings — nothing else. Things like dogs and gardens that have been brought up before are allowed under other parts of the law.

“You all made that up,” Blakeman said to the upset residents.

Even though Mayor Blakeman wanted the issue resolved Tuesday night, council didn’t make a decision.

Some residents said they’re not convinced the law only applies to buildings and they want that part of the code changed.

If changes need to be made, council says alternatives should be submitted in writing. Former Mayor Richard Simpson said he hopes that happens soon.