Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Environment - Updating "'Chicken underground' emerges in Indiana"
This Aug. 18th ILB entry quoted by an Indianapolis Star report on citizens "lobbying the Lafayette City Council to allow them to keep pet chickens at their homes in the historic Highland Park neighborhood." The story went on to report:
Many cities allow urban chicken farming, including Indianapolis, St. Louis, San Francisco, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Madison, Wis.Here are some updates:
- Evansville. The Courier & Press had this item Sept. 2nd, headed "Keeping backyard chickens in the city. Yes it's legal!!" and announcing:
The Evansville Backyard Poultry Meetup Group is for people who have or are interested in small backyard flocks of chickens for pets, eggs, or meat.
You just might be surprised at how many people living in your neighborhood have pet chickens!
There is nothing quite like walking outside in the morning to gather fresh organic eggs for your breakfast!
We welcome everyone that has a small backyard flock of chickens, and those that are interested in getting started raising a small backyard flock of chickens.
- Lafayette. The news is not so good for chicken lovers in Lafayette. Sunday the Journal Courier had this story by Amanda Hamon, headed "Urban chicken question up for discussion Monday." The story quoted the current Lafayette Code:
It shall be unlawful for a person to own, keep or breed a horse, pig, pony, mule, donkey, jackass, goat, chicken, peacock, turkey, cow, llama or other livestock in the city, however, the provisions of this section shall not apply to zoological parks, or bona fide circuses or carnivals.Today Ms. Hamon reports:
Lafayette's urban chicken debate ended Monday night when a city council committee agreed to leave unchanged an ordinance that bans keeping the birds inside the city.
The meeting pitted those who advocated keeping chickens as pets and laying hens against those who argued that the animals smell bad, devalue neighborhood properties and present health hazards.
More than 80 people attended a meeting devoted to the topic. They included urban chicken advocates Linda Schafer and Matthew Arnett, who came dressed in a feathered, canary yellow chicken suit.
"I love chickens because they're wonderful pets. I love them because they're beautiful and civilized," Schafer said. Beside her, Arnett offered a graceful bow.
Schafer and other proponents said chickens make wonderful pets and often are cleaner than dogs or cats. Gay-Ellen Stulp, who along with Stephany Miskunas began the chicken debate, argued they aren't proven to devalue property or pose health risks.
Heather Letizia, Miskunas' daughter, said she didn't agree with an ordinance that, as it stands, tells her what kind of pets people can and can't own.
"People are allowed to get tarantulas, people are allowed to get poisonous snakes," Letizia said. "Those are all legal and fine."
Kent Moore, a Highland Park resident who lives near Stulp and Miskunas, spoke against allowing chickens. He said he feared legal chickens would lead to more legal livestock and a slew of related problems.
"If you allow this, you're opening Pandora's box. What we say, and what we request, is no coops in the 'hood," Moore said, banging on the podium. * * *
After the meeting, Stulp said she was pleased with the level of civility during the arguments. She did not plan to appeal the decision.
"I had my opportunity to say what I thought was important," Stulp said. "This is democracy at its finest."
- Indianapolis.What of Indianapolis? I did some research and found that Sec. 531-104 and 105 prohibit keeping "swine, a horse, pony, mule, donkey, jackass, or llama." Chickens are not listed.
But wanting to be sure the Indianapolis city powers agree, and hoping to help avoid having a number of citizens individually trying to get answers, I checked with Jackie Nytes, my City County Councillor. She in turn checked with City Legal. Chris Cotterill, head of the Office of Corporation Counsel and a busy man, wrote back:
Councillor,I would consider this the definitive answer for Indianapolis. Thanks to all.
Ms. Oddi is correct that the City does not prohibit an individual from owning chickens. There are several provisions in the Revised Code, however, that limit the effect that these chickens could have on surrounding properties.
Chapter 531 of the Revised Code does not expressly address chickens. While certain types of livestock (swine, horses, donkeys, etc.) may only be kept upon compliance with certain conditions, there are no qualifications to owning a chicken. Because Chapter 531 does apply to all animals, however, the owner of a chicken would need to ensure that the animal is kept in compliance with that chapter. For instance, a chicken would need to be kept confined. Further, an owner would need to provide proper food, water, shelter with ventilation, and veterinarian care. Also, if the chicken was responsible for habitual or frequent vocalizations that would cause serious annoyance or disturbance to people in the vicinity, it could be declared a nuisance.
[Re a concern I expressed about zoning] On a residential property, the dwelling is considered that property’s primary use. Having chickens in this situation would be analogous to owning any other type of pet, which is not regulated by the zoning ordinances. If ownership of these chickens, however, turned into a more substantial (not incidental to the primary use) or commercial operation, the property owner could then be found in violation for a non-permitted accessory use or non-permitted home occupation.
Any construction associated with a chicken coop could also be subject to enforcement by the City. If a coop were more than 120 square feet, it would require an Improvement Location Permit. Depending on the type of coop built, a building or electrical permit could also be required. Moreover, a coop could also be subject to various development standards regarding side and rear yard setbacks.
In short, the limited type of chicken ownership described below would most likely be permitted in a dwelling district. Any person wishing to own a chicken, however, should be advised that the provisions of Chapter 531 will apply to them. Should you have any further questions regarding this issue, please do not hesitate to contact me.
I will ask Adam Collins of our office to assist, as he has just now become an expert on City/Chicken issues to help me with this.