Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Opinion

March 7, 2014

Chickens can have a place in the city

The proposed ordinance to allow Goshen residents to raise small flocks of chickens is something we would like the City Council to adopt, with some restraints of course.

Some Goshen residents have wanted for years to raise a few chickens for food, as pets, or for the gardening fertilizer they produce. The proposed law would limit the size of the flock to six hens, no noisy roosters would be allowed and specifications for controlling the hens in pens is included. Also, no commercial operations involving the chickens would be allowed.

Most Indiana cities have had strict controls on livestock within their limits for decades. Those laws came into existence as cities grew and urban and rural areas became more defined.

FRIGHTENING FOOD contaminations have occurred in recent years and some people read package labels and shake their heads in wonderment at the ingredients. So we are seeing a resurgence in vegetable gardening, and outside the city limits, small farm operations are popping up. City dwellers also want in on this movement of more self-sufficiency and control of their family’s food supply, so there are more and more city councils willing to write laws to allow those activities.

Obviously cows, pigs and sheep cannot be raised on small city lots, but chickens can. Properly cooped, chickens make little noise and can easily blend into a backyard, especially those that are fenced.

Lack of odor control from chicken waste is the largest downside we envision going forward. The ordinance states the chicken enclosure “... shall be maintained in a clean, dry and odor-free, and sanitary condition at all times.” That language doesn’t allow any leeway for a lazy homeowner who causes a neighborhood problem. Enforcement of the ordinance and its provisions will be similar to other city codes.

OVERALL, THE ORDINANCE seems sound and enforceable and should be adequate to control any problems arising in the future. Yet, because this law takes the city into a new direction, one of livestock keeping, we suggest the City Council work with interested community groups to provide for annual reviews of chicken rearing in the city for the next two years. A scheduled discussion of the law and how Goshen residents utilize it should work to both protect the interests of those who want to raise chickens and the neighbors of those people.

Other than that, the City Council should approve this ordinance.

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