would like to apply for "land use variance" or try to change ordinance

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by changethelaw, Mar 27, 2012.

  1. changethelaw

    changethelaw Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 27, 2012
    Hello BYC-ers! I'm new to the forum and totally interested in raising a few hens in my town. After reading codes, calling, calling, and finally going to the mayors office I found out it's illegal within the city limits of Martinsville, Indiana. The law there states something like there will be no mules, horses, goats, swine, or fowl housed within the city limits. period. end of story.

    I would like to change this one way or another. Indianapolis and nearby Bloomington have already changed their chicken laws so I hope it's only a matter of time anyway. So, one option would be to try to round up people and information on changing the ordinance. I have read many of the approved ordinances nation-wide so I have a good idea what the problems might be and what a "good ordinance" might entail.

    This is a pretty small city, like 20,000 people... maybe. There is a lot of agriculture in the county which of course allows fowl but then there are the people who live in city limits. I'm hoping that because farming is so big here that might help with getting people on board hah.

    Okay option two would be to apply for a "land use variance." We live on the edge of town on joining 2 lots adding up to nearly an acre, surrounded and secluded by trees and fencing. It would be easy to set-back the chicken coop 50feet from all property lines. Most people in town don't live on an acre or even half so that is part of the reason why I hope this could be granted. ALLTHOUGH I THINK IT SHOULDN'T MATTER TOO MUCH AND EVERYONE SHOULD RAISE THEM IF THEY CAN! Sorry, I had to say that. If I were to go this route it would have to be fair to anyone in town who could set back their coop a certain distance or anyone who lives on this much land within city limits. I'm just not sure how to go about this. Thank you in advance.

  2. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 26, 2011
    Upper Peninsula Michigan
  3. changethelaw

    changethelaw Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 27, 2012
    I'm sorry, did I post in the wrong section of the forum? silly newbie I am.
  4. toddreed

    toddreed Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 12, 2010
    Oakland, CA
    No, you posted in the right place, Kelsey. Your thread showed up in the "ordinances" category when I logged in. 1mutts may be confused.

    My two cents: You very well may be successful in getting the town officials on your side, but will probably take a lot of work, gathering support from the community, going to meetings, blah blah blah. A worthy cause, no doubt, but, if you don't have room in your schedule for that sort of thing right now, I would say just go for it - getting chickens that is. Police officers have far better things to do than enforce an obsolete ordinance that says a person with access to an acre of land can't keep a laying flock. I mean, be reasonable, you know, keep it under 50 birds.

    At least that's very true where I am. The cops are chasing around real criminals and they don't think twice about the rooster I keep with my flock which is a violation of Oakland California city code. Small town Indiana might be different.

    Related anecdotal story: One day I saw two cops snooping around the parking lot next door to my yard and looking over the fence very suspiciously. They went walked back out to the street where I saw two police cars, and, assuming they had heard crowing and were trying to locate my illegal rooster, I started to freak out and slipped into the back yard, grabbed my rooster, Trainwreck, and brought him in the house and put him under a laundry basket and down sleeping bag to muffle his crows. My heart was pounding, thinking oh man, i'm going to have to put him down... Turns out they were looking for a drug dealer who had resisted arrest on the next street up and had fled through my yard. I felt like kind of a dork.

  5. Knittycat

    Knittycat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 25, 2011
    Bay City, TX
    "trying to locate my illegal rooster"

    Best phrase I've read all day!
  6. changethelaw

    changethelaw Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 27, 2012
    haha I would love to go rogue and just get them but, I've already drawn attention to myself by calling everyone in town practically (and it's a small town). I also wouldn't be able to enjoy it if I had that anxiety about someone seeing them all the time. I can see some of our police officers getting bored enough to do something about it hah.

    Does anyone know how to find people in your town who would like to keep chickens? Put up signs at public establishments lol?

    My father deals with codes and variances often he said the easiest bet would be to stress the lot size, edge of town, and seclusion.
  7. k3llyVA

    k3llyVA Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 28, 2012
    Arlington, VA
    Quote: Yes! Make a flyer with some info and post it wherever you can. Maybe some local merchants will allow you to post your flyer in a window, or look for bulletin boards around town that allow the public to post notices- your library, post office, grocery stores, parks? Hand them out at a farmers' market. Perhaps you can get your local paper to do a story. Show your support for chickens with one of my awesome t-shirts: [​IMG]


    I'm from Arlington Va, where we are trying to change our zoning ordinances to allow for backyard hens. I'm involved with a group called The Arlington Egg Project- check out their website for lots of good information and ideas on what to say.


    Here are some more links from BYC that should help get you started:


    Good luck!
  8. changethelaw

    changethelaw Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 27, 2012
    Thanks for the links! I want one of the shirts. No I need one ahaa.

    Update: After one of my many calls to find out the ordinance in my town I I heard back from Animal Control. The man basically said "honey, yes, It's been illegal for a long time. I don't look for that sort of thing. As long as your neighbors don't mind...." Gotta love small town Indiana.

    I'm still on the edge with weather or not I'm going to fight this or go rogue. I was at rural king looking at chicks and I overheard two families who live in town talk about how they "do it" and so do their neighbors so "why not?" haha I thought I was the only one.
  9. oldrooster

    oldrooster One Crazy Nut

    Changethelaw I understand Martinsville is trying to expand the city limit's I would go ahead and get the birds and go to the planning and zoning in person give them no name and no address but tell them you want to have chickens you have about an acre in the city and if they are going to expand the city limits (esp. the liberty church road area) you'd like to see an ordnance to allow chickens in the current city limits and other farm animals in certain areas of the city after the annexation with the understanding they may re zone the those ares as the city expands into them. and ask them how to word a proposition to allow for zoning and make 3 ordinances 1 for as I stated current city people to have chickens 1 for the rural area and 1 that combines them. point out to them that there are some businesses that people may not want near their homes and won't fit current zoning that will get grandfathered in when the city expands and ask the combination be accepted because the neighbors in a few areas may not care for chickens, horses or whatever because that would be a minor dislike compared to lets say the junkyard/recycling center north of town. Plus word it for a form for neighbor's permission for such like Bloomington's chicken ordinance.

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