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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ind. Gov't. - "South Bend backyard chicken law probably won’t be decided this year"

Adding to the ILB's list of Indiana "chicken underground" entries is this story today from the South Bend Tribune, reported by Erica Morrison. Some quotes:

In June, The Tribune published a story about Michael Thompson and Bobbie Crowel, former LaPorte residents who moved to Mishawaka a year ago. After that city’s code enforcement received an anonymous tip, Thompson and Crowel were told they weren’t allowed to keep their four pet hens in the city.

Cities such as Bloomington, Indianapolis and Evansville allow backyard chickens, and some residents are hoping South Bend will be added to the list.

Karen Coman, who has been actively campaigning for her own backyard coop in South Bend off and on since 2008, said that finally this year some progress has been made.

Common Council member Henry Davis Jr., D-2nd, agreed to sponsor the proposal allowing backyard chickens. On Nov. 8, the issue was brought before thecommunity relations committee.

Coman said members of committee were receptive to the idea, but they were most concerned about health-related risks associated with having fowl in city limits, code violations and whether the idea will cost the city any money. * * *

Davis believes backyard chickens are what is best for the community. He said the proposal is currently in the fact-finding stage and that nothing has been drafted at this time.

Davis believes “lack of education behind urban chickens” is the reason people debate the idea of chickens being allowed within the city. He cites economic development as one of the key reasons for allowing urban chickens.

The lack of access to grocers and economic growth in neighborhoods such as the Comans’ Monroe Park neighborhood, Davis said, are prime examples of the need for more alternative food sources like Unity Gardens, which are found throughout the city.

According to Kathleen Cekanski-Farrand, South Bend Common Council attorney, two separate ordinances would have to be filed to change the current ordinances already in place: Chapter 5 Animals and Fowl and a Chapter 21 zoning ordinance.

South Bend’s current policy does not allow residents to own chickens unless they have at least five acres of land. * * *

Susan Greutman, a mother of three who lives in the Edison Park neighborhood, said she is all for backyard chickens because of the role they play in the green sustainability movement.

Greutman said that in her neighborhood of post-World War II homes, she has seen more and more gardens popping up in the same spots victory gardens existed decades ago.

She noted that with today’s economic challenges, people are just trying to feed themselves, and backyard chickens would only encourage that self-sustainability.

Proponents of the measure say residents who are interested in supporting it should contact their council members.

“If South Bend claims to be a 21st century city of innovation,” Greutman said, “we need to move forward with this.”

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 30, 2010 06:52 PM
Posted to Indiana Government