« Ind. Decisions - Court of Appeals issues 1 today (and 2 NFP) | Main | Ind. Decisions - Transfer list for week ending September 13, 2013 [Updated] »

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ind. Gov't. - "Backyard barnyards could be banned in Oakland City"

Tabitha Waggoner reported Sept. 10th in the Princeton Daily Clarion:

Oakland City resident Lana Myers-Getto came to the Oakland City Council meeting Tuesday night worried that she would have to give up her chickens and goats due to a possible update to a missing (or non-existing) ordinance.

While City Attorney Jason Spindler explained a more simplified city nuisance ordinance, Myers-Getto waited for mention of farm animals. It didn’t come until later in the meeting, when the council considered adopting the example of another city’s ordinance restricting farm animals within the city limits.

“That’s not the city of Oakland City, yet,” Myers-Getto said.

“No, but we’re seriously considering it,” Mayor Hugh Wirth responded. “I understand that,” Myers-Getto said, then asked for permission to speak.

She has had goats and chickens for about five years and brought all her papers along with her.

“I understand that the outside of my place this year has really looked bad...I’ve been really sick,” Myers-Getto said. Her church helped her clean up her home. “The little goats aren’t bothering anybody, you know...”

She asked to be grandfathered (exempted) from the ordinance, if it is rediscovered or a new one is enforced. She said she has diabetes and that she drinks a half gallon of goat milk a day, which helps her health issues.

“I have depression. They make me get up—I have to get up and feed those babies, every day, two times a day,” she said of the goats she owns.

“They’re not hurting anybody. I’m not hurting anybody,” Myers-Getto said.

Myers-Getto also added that she suffers from a brain tumor, and then began crying after explaining that she received the animals after her brother died. Spindler said that she could probably be grandfathered from the ordinance because of her health issues. The council decided to exempt Myers-Getto from the ordinance, and she thanked them.

Hoofed animals such as bovine, cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, are restricted from being in the city limits under the proposed readopted ordinance. As long as ducks or geese with a pond are confined in a way to a person’s property, they would be tolerated.

“I have chickens in my backyard and a minihorse...are we going to be grandfathered too?” asked Bryan Grubb, who was sitting with his wife Crickett and their 2-year-old son, right next to Myers-Getto.

“I’ve got a 6 foot privacy fence in my backyard. There’s probably people in this town who don’t even know what I’ve got in my backyard. And that mini horse is my little boy’s pet. He’s out there every morning playing with it. And we get eggs from our chickens.”

They’ve also got a goat that they’ll get goat’s milk from when it’s old enough to breed.

Bryan Grubb said he’s heard no one complain about his backyard, but councilman Jerry Richardson said that there have been complaints about the Grubbs’ livestock, but that those neighbors didn’t want to be named. He said he went to city hall twice asking about chickens, but never got a clear answer, so he went ahead and got them chickens. They all have names, too, he said.

“Is there an ordinance in town that now says you cannot have chickens or goats?” Bryan Grubb asked. “I don’t want to get rid of my animals,” he said.

“We think there is, but we’re not sure,” Spindler answered with a chuckle.

“We’re pretty sure there is but we can’t come up with a copy with it right now,” Richardson said.

They believe there was an ordinance set up in the late 1950s but since it’s difficult to find, that’s why they’re working on creating an updated city ordinance.

Ms. Waggoner reports again on Sept. 12th:
Two amendments made to a 1953 ordinance banning backyard barnyards have been discovered.

The first amendment to ordinance 1953-1 (1953-1 bans horses, cows, hogs, and goats within the town’s limits) is ordinance 8-1973 and is signed by then-mayor and current council president Jerry Richardson.

It reads, “Ordinance #1953-1 is amended by deleting the word “horse” wherever it is mentioned...This ordinance shall be in full force and effect immediately after it is ordained. The foregoing ordinance was duly adopted by the Common Council of the City of Oakland City, Indiana, this 27 day of November, 1973. (Signed by) Leonard Mills, Cecil Earles, Robert Burton, Cletus Harden, William Woods, Members of the Common Council...Approved by me, Jerry Richardson, Mayor of the City of Oakland City, Indiana, this 28 day of November, 1973...”

Oakland City resident Bryan Grubb said he thinks it is ironic that Richardson signed an ordinance that allows horses and is “pushing so hard” for the banning of backyard animals. “We already have ‘em (mini horse, chickens and goat) so we’re praying for a grandfathering,” he said.

Grubb also added he’s making sure it will be standing room only at the next Oakland City board of works and city council meeting. Richardson said that he doesn’t know whether the current council will decide to uphold the amendment or not. “I don’t really know...I don’t want to speak for the council,” he said. But Richardson added, “Bryan doesn’t have the whole picture.”

Another updated ordinance passed on August 27, 1991, will also play a part in the next meeting. Ordinance 1991-3 is “An ordinance prohibiting all livestock, except horses, within the corporate limits of the city of Oakland City, Indiana.” It reads, “Whereas, the Common Council of the City of Oakland City, Indiana, deems it necessary and in the interest of the public welfare of the citizens of Oakland City, Indiana, to prohibit the keeping or quartering of livestock, except horses, within the corporate limits of the City of Oakland City, Indiana. Now therefore, be it ordained...as follow....it shall be unlawful for anyone to keep or quarter any form of livestock, except horses, within the corporate limits of the city...that any person violating any portion of this Ordinance shall upon conviction be fined in the amount of Twenty-Five Dollars ($25) and each day this ordinance is violated constitutes a separate violation...Ordinance shall be in full force and effect from and after its passage and after publication as by law required. Signed by James Deffendall, Leonard Mills, Gary Phillips, Cecil Earles, Kenneth Dickerson, members of the common council...approved by me, Everett Robertson, Mayor of the city of Oakland City, Indiana, this 27th day of August, 1991...”

Mayor Hugh Wirth said that the council’s previous decision grandfathering Lana Myers-Getto and her animals due to her medical condition will have to be looked at, along with the ordinance and amendments that have been found. “We’ll just have to take a hard look at it at the next meeting,” he said. “It’s all under review because we did find the original ordinance.”

City attorney Jason Spindler explained that grandfathering would not apply in this case since the law has been found and whether or not the law was enforced, “the law is still valid.” But Spindler noted that Myers-Getto probably shouldn’t have to return to the city council meeting to ask for a variance, but that he would probably advise that the council’s grandfathering of Myers-Getto simply be changed into a variance. “The law is not retroactive,” he explained. Variances, if given, will be given on a case-by-case basis. Spindler also confirmed that “livestock, except horses” wording in the 1991-3 ordinance includes chickens as being forbidden. Chickens are legally livestock. Spindler added that he’s not sure mini horses would be included in the excluded “horses,” though.

The next council meeting is Sept. 24 at 5:45 p.m. at the Oakland City Fire Department.

The ILB has had similar stories in the past of "lost ordinances" from other towns:

Posted by Marcia Oddi on September 16, 2013 11:38 AM
Posted to Indiana Government