The first ever Goshen chicken-keeping ordinance is restrictive and limited, but it is a start.
After weeks of discussions, debate and resurrection, the chicken-keeping ordinance was approved Tuesday on a 4-3 vote by the City Council. As written, the ordinance will allow 50 Goshen property owners to keep up to six hens on their property if they pay the $25 permit fee and get signed permission from their adjoining property owners. The council will also have to revisit the ordinance in two years to vote to keep it alive, amend it or let it die.
WE HAVE CONTENDED all along that the original ordinance, which was rejected by the council March 18, was the best ordinance. That ordinance required homeowners to keep chicken coops neat and tidy, make sure no odor came from the coop and coops had to be 15 feet from property lines. There was no permit fee, no signatures and no limit on how many residents could keep chickens. We did suggest an annual review of the ordinance by the council.
But we know the reality of politics and almost always proposed laws are amended so they are more acceptable to more people so enough votes can be gathered for passage. That’s what happened with the chicken-keeping ordinance. In this case, council member Jeremy Stutsman, who voted against the original ordinance, offered the amended ordinance that included the permit fee, a limit on permits and signatures from neighbors. He voted for the amended ordinance this time.
That means there will be some chickens being raised within the city limits in the near future. The responsibility for winning over the three doubting council members and ensuring continued support from the other four council members will be placed in the hands of the 50 property owners who receive permits. We don’t envision many problems. But we urge those who decide to keep chickens to make sure they follow the letter of the law and maintain good relations with their neighbors.
LOOKING INTO Goshen’s future, we don’t see a city filled with chickens and livestock. But we do think it is to the community’s advantage going forward to promote sustainable lifestyles whenever possible, and keeping a few hens for food and fun fits nicely into that theme.
We are happy a few city residents will have a chance to do just that.