November 29, 2014

Elyria
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North Ridgeville ‘chicken man’ says he’s fried, ready to leave town

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The “Chicken Man” has had it.

Richard Monaco, owner of the Hatchery Antique Mall on Avon Belden Road, feeds his chickens Wednesday. (CT photo by Steve Manheim.)

Richard Monaco, owner of the Hatchery Antique Mall on Avon Belden Road, feeds his chickens Wednesday. (CT photo by Steve Manheim.)

Richard Monaco, a longtime antiques business operator who jokingly gave himself the moniker over his off-and-on squabbles with city officials about chickens he raises at his Avon Belden Road business, said he’s going to sell the venture and leave town.

“My health is deteriorating, and my sister has asked me to live in Tucson,” Monaco said this week. “My sons are in Myrtle Beach, but I’ll probably go to Tucson.”

Owner of the Hatchery Antique Mall for 25 years, Monaco, 61, has made headlines over the years for various issues, most notably those dealing with the chickens he raised and which occasionally got loose from an enclosed yard at the front of the business.

Monaco, of Avon Lake, said he has been unfairly targeted and harassed by the city and neighbors.

“I need less stress in my life,” Monaco said. “I’ll sell the chickens. North Ridgeville, you win. I’m too old to fight. I’ve got a target on my back in this town. That’s part of the reason I want to leave.”

Chad Chillemi with Prudential Lucien Real Estate said the asking price for 7474 Avon Belden Road is $150,000 and includes a 5,400-square-foot, multi-room building on just less than acre. The property is zoned for general retail.

The site was occupied by an actual chicken hatchery many years ago.

“This is a piece of history for North Ridgeville,” Chillemi said.

Monaco said the business is struggling.

“It’s losing money, and I can’t maintain it. I’ve been so sick. If I don’t have it sold by November, I’ll close,’’ he said. “I won’t spend any more winters here. I still have issues with high blood pressure and other things. My nerves are frazzled.”

The stress of his off-and-on legal squabbles have led to Monaco’s being hospitalized a number of times over the past year, he said.

His latest chicken-at-large case stems from an April incident. The case is assigned to Elyria Municipal Court Judge Lisa Locke-Graves, and the next court date is Aug. 11.

Monaco emerged victorious from a court case in July 2010 in which he was found innocent of violating local animal-at-large statues by an eight-person jury before Elyria Municipal Court Judge Gary Bennett. The charges grew out of a long dispute with neighbors over chickens getting loose and wandering into their yard.

“The neighbors will love it,” Monaco said of his decision to sell the business.

Monaco, who had raised as many as 50 chickens in an indoor coop, had four other animal-at-large charges dismissed since the summer of 2009.

“So many complaints have been made that the city reacted to them and filed charges,” Daniel Wightman, Monaco’s attorney, said. “Nobody wanted to back down, and things just went in a circle for a time.”

North Ridgeville Mayor David Gillock said the city just wants Monaco to follow the law.

“He has a long history of challenging the system,’’ Gillock said. “I’d just like to see the issue go away.”

Wightman said some pending charges might be resolved with a sale.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 392-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.