Let’s start over on a chicken-keeping ordinance for Goshen.
What appeared as a popular ordinance with support of the entire Goshen City Council, was killed on a 4-2 vote Tuesday night.
We wish the council had listened to the desires of many Goshen residents and approved the law, but that didn’t happen. Now, we suggest those in the community who favor such an ordinance to promote sustainable living practices continue to work with their council members to find a workable law. The reasons given by the dissenting council members not to pass the ordinance seemed to be all over the place, with no one issue standing out.
BUT WE HAD TO scratch our heads when the issue of odors or falling property values came into play during the council’s discussions, because the proposed ordinance firmly addressed those concerns. The law as written was very restrictive, requiring chicken owners to keep their coops tidy, odor free and in good appearance. What more is needed?
Neighborhood dogs create far more problems of odor and messes in the city than any chicken flock will create, yet dogs are acceptable pets. Anyone who has lived next to a dog owner who does not clean their yard during a warm spring or summer stretch can attest to the nastiness involved. Yet, chicken waste is valued for its compostability by gardeners, who we think will be the biggest fans of urban chickens. And compost piles quickly break down their contents and very little, if any, odor is emitted.
WHAT WE THINK is occurring with this ordinance is simply a lack of understanding of gardening, chicken-keeping practices and also how widespread the self-sufficiency movement in the Goshen area has become. Many Goshen residents want to take part in the raising of some of their food, both for economic reasons and for health reasons. Chickens are small, quiet and can be contained in coops, making them ideal urban animals that can be utilized by these residents.