Chesterton Indiana, working to drop lot size restrictions on chickens.

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances (and how to change' started by Mr Dominique, Nov 6, 2014.

  1. Mr Dominique

    Mr Dominique New Egg

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    Greetings Friends.
    I am not a chicken owner presently, because its against my town ordinance. I have been around chickens since I was a kid, and want to offer my own young children the same experiences that come with having a back yard flock of their own. Presently my town has a half acre lot minimum for any livestock, horses, cows, pigs, and chickens. I am speaking with the town council on Monday night. Your support in any way would be appreciated.
     
  2. Mr Dominique

    Mr Dominique New Egg

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    First, I spoke at the town council meeting:

    http://chestertontribune.com/Town of Chesterton/council_hears_request_to_keep_eg.htm

    Council hears request to keep egg-laying hens in town backyard
    By KEVIN NEVERS

    A new Chesterton resident with a taste for fresh eggs and a passion for sustainability has asked the Town Council for permission to keep chickens--egg-laying hens--in the backyard of his home at 2010 W. Porter Ave.

    Marcus Key told the council at its meeting Monday that he’s new in town and that he specifically “chose Chesterton” on account of the opportunities available here to live a sustainable lifestyle. Among other things, Key said that he shops for produce at the European Market in season, finds plenty of organic goods at Molly Bea’s Ingredients on Indian Boundary Road, enjoys grass-fed beef at the Octave Grill, and uses cloth diapers.

    Now, Key said, he “wants a few chickens for egg laying.”
    The problem: Town Code forbids the keeping of “farm animals”--including “poultry”--on “any premises which has open land of less than one-half acre in lot area.

    “I want a few pet chickens,” Key said, “maybe four hens I could collect eggs from from time to time.”
    Key did note that the ordinance in question does make an exception for 4-H projects, so that the ban isn’t a non-discriminating blanket one.

    Members were not unamenable to the suggestion but did say that Key’s request--the first time he’s ever heard this one made, said Member Jeff Trout, R-2nd--needs to be considered carefully.

    “I think it’s a very viable suggestion that merits further review,” said Member Jim Ton, R-1st, who added that the particular inclusion of chickens in the ban on farm animals has its origin in a particular goose problem at a residence on South Calumet Road many years ago.

    Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, for his part, said that he happens to have a next-door neighbor who keeps chickens on his (larger than one-half acre in lot area) property. And those fowl aren’t altogether quiet, DeLaney said.

    Chickens are not, in fact, altogether quiet, Key agreed. When they crow, they make a noise less than that of a leaf blower’s, around 50 decibels, he said.

    Speaking in favor of Key’s request was Wendy Simms, who lives in town but operates a “sustainable farm just outside town limits.” Simms said that, every now and then, it would be nice if she were permitted to bring to her home in town a chicken “in need of extra care.”

    Would the yard be fenced in? Trout wanted to know.
    Key said that it would be, that he would treat his chickens as any resident with a dog is required by ordinance to do: contained and secured.

    One person who spoke against Key’s suggestion was Paul Tharp, who was reminded of the pot-bellied pig which his sister had made a pet of. “It was just like a puppy, lived in her home, was house-broken,” he said. And everybody was happy until the town cited her for keeping a farm animal on her property in violation of Town Code, forcing her to move out of town.
    “I wouldn’t want to be the one who told my sister that the council is now going to let people raise farm animals in town,” Tharp said. “I just think that the rules should be fair to everybody.”
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  3. Mr Dominique

    Mr Dominique New Egg

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    Nov 6, 2014
    Then I followed up at the next meeting:

    http://chestertontribune.com/Town of Chesterton/council_asks_attorney_to_draft_c.htm

    Council asks attorney to draft chicken ordinance for review
    By KEVIN NEVERS

    Marcus Key now has a new nickname: The Chicken Guy.
    But will he be permitted to live up to it?

    At its meeting Monday night, the Chesterton Town Council voted 4-0 to instruct Associate Town Attorney Julie Paulson to prepare--“for review”--an ordinance which would allow the owners of premises with “open land of less than one-half acre in lot area” to keep chickens. Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, was not in attendance.

    Key petitioned the council at its last meeting to amend the ordinance which currently prohibits him--as the owner of such a lot, at 2010 W. Porter Ave.--to keep poultry. Key said that he’s interested in a few egg-layers only, not in roosters, that with four or so hens he could enhance the sustainability of his lifestyle, and that he would actually think of his chickens more as pets than as barnyard denizens.

    “People around town who know me now call me The Chicken Guy,” Key joked on Monday, following press coverage of the Nov. 11 meeting.

    Members at the time expressed their interest in Key’s petition--Member Jim Ton, R-1st, in particular thought it a “very viable suggestion that merits further review”--but made it pretty clear that yea or nay would depend mostly on public input.
    Has there been much over the last two weeks?
    “Certainly there’s been some feedback back and forth,” Attorney Paulson noted on Monday.
    Members accordingly asked her to prepare an amendment to the ordinance now on the books but committed themselves only to reviewing it, not passing it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  4. Mr Dominique

    Mr Dominique New Egg

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    A draft ordinance was issued, and it passed the first reading:

    http://chestertontribune.com/Town of Chesterton/town_council_okays_chicken_ordin.htm

    Town Council okays chicken ordinance on first reading only
    By KEVIN NEVERS

    The Chesterton Town Council may have a soft spot for chickens.
    At their meeting Monday night, members voted 5-0 to approve on first reading--but on first reading only--an ordinance which would allow folks who live on lots of a half-acre or smaller to keep chickens.

    But only under closely defined conditions, including the following:
    * A maximum of four hens--but no roosters--would be permitted.
    * They would need to be kept in a securely enclosed rear yard, in a coop with a minimum area of 10 square feet per chicken.
    * They would need to be provided water and feed at all time.
    * All supplies of feed would have to be contained so as not to attract vermin.
    * 4H-ers who already keep chickens in town, under current Town Code, would be exempt from the conditions of this ordinance.

    Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann told members that his associate, Julie Paulson, did an eggsellent job researching the issue and found that a large number of municipalities in Indiana already do permit the keeping of chickens under similar conditions.

    Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, made it clear that he, for one, preferred not to cast a final vote on the ordinance on Monday but to wait two more weeks, should some last-minute tweaking become necessary. But DeLaney also made it clear that he rather likes the idea of chicken-keeping in town. Over the last month or so, he said, four people have approached him to “adamantly” voice their opposition to chickens. But “14 others want it,” DeLaney added. “Make that 15. I’m for it too.”
    “There’s nothing wrong with chickens,” DeLaney continued. “Dogs are worse. Dogs leave waste in your yard. And lots of other communities in Indiana allow chickens.”

    Member Nick Walding, R-3rd, made this point as well: current Town Code already allows those who reside on lots of larger than one-half acre to keep chickens. But Town Code in no way protects them from the code officer if their hens become a nuisance or a health concern, Walding said.

    Earlier in the meeting, Victoria Dudek made an impassioned, intelligent plea for urban chickens from the floor, after noting that she and her husband moved here eight years ago and “fell in love with the town” precisely because it’s so “innovative” a municipality.
    Chickens, Dudek said, “are not burdensome or disruptive at all,” so long as they are kept, as all pets must be kept, “responsibly.” Urban chickens “keep the bugs at bay,” their droppings “fertilize gardens,” and their eggs are healthier than those produced in mass-laying operations.
    Any number of big cities already allow urban chickens, Dudek added, including South Bend, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles, and Portland, Oreg. Permitting them in Chesterton would continue the town’s tradition of innovation, she said, would likely attract new residents, and could conceivably prove to be a small arrow in the quiver of economic development.

    One person did object to the chicken ordinance, Paul Tharp, who at the council’s last meeting argued that allowing chickens in Chesterton would be unfair to his sister, who years ago was forced to move outside town limits because her potbellied pig was found to be in violation of the same provision of Town Code which prohibits chickens. On Monday Tharp suggested that the resident who first broached the issue in November, Marcus Key of 2010 W. Porter Ave., is probably unaware of the sporadic way in which hens lay eggs. Key would need many more than four hens, Tharp said, to keep his family in eggs.

    Key, however, apparently does happen to know something about chickens, having kept them on the farm he grew up on in Kentucky. “I’m not looking for an egg factory,” he said. “I want pet hens for my kids, to give them the same experience I had growing up.”
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
  5. Mr Dominique

    Mr Dominique New Egg

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    Then the ordinance was approved in final form:

    http://chestertontribune.com/Town of Chesterton/chicken_ordinance_now_on_the_boo.htm

    Chicken ordinance now on the books
    By KEVIN NEVERS

    With neither a cluck nor a squawk, the Chesterton Town Council has made it legal to keep backyard chickens.
    At its meeting Monday night, members voted unanimously to approve the chicken ordinance on final reading.

    That ordinance now allows folks who live on lots of a half-acre or smaller to keep chickens under closely defined conditions:
    * A maximum of four hens--but no roosters--are permitted.
    * They must be kept in a securely enclosed rear yard, in a coop with a minimum area of 10 square feet per chicken.
    * They must be provided with water and feed all the time.
    * All supplies of feed must be contained so as not to attract vermin.

    In November, a resident of the 2000 block of West Porter Ave., Marcus Key, asked the council to amend Town Code, under which it had long been illegal for anyone but 4-Hers to keep chickens in town on small lots.

    As Member Jim Ton, R-1st, noted on Monday, the ordinance was not written for slapdash hobbyists. “Even a casual reader will realize (hen-keeping) is not a cheap venture,” he said. “It would be an expensive venture. And we hope a humane venture.”
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2014
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