Rushville Republican

April 22, 2014

'Chicken Ordinance' returned to BZA unsigned

Frank Denzler Rushville Republican
Rushville Republican

---- — Meeting for the second time in their new home, the Assembly Room of the county courthouse, the county commissioners needed the additional space as a result of the number of those in attendance Monday.

A number of those on hand came to voice their concerns regarding the proposed “Chicken Ordinance.” For a number of years, the issue of raising chickens in rural communities on property consisting of less than 10 acres has been a hot topic on both sides of the issue.

According to current Rush County zoning rules, poultry is viewed as livestock in the same manner of beef, sheep and horses, and in order to legally have livestock, they must be kept on rural zoned property consisting of at least 10 acres of land.

Those in favor of making changes to the current livestock ordinance, contend that chickens provide food for the family and that in a number of cases, the poultry is used for 4-H projects and entries at the county fair and should not be bound by the same restrictions as other livestock (swine, horses, sheep and cattle).

According to the ordinance presented to the county leaders for approval:

• Applicant must complete scorecard.

• Food shall be kept in airtight containers.

• Coops and bedding shall be kept clean.

• Soiled bedding and manure shall be disposed of in a timely manner.

• Birds shall be housed in appropriately sized housing.

• Notice of intent must be sent to all owners or residential structures within 500 feet of proposed coop.

• Only chickens would be allowed (waterfowl, peafowl, guinea fowl and other gamebirds are not permitted).

• Chickens may be kept for non-commercial use only (eggs cannot be sold).

• Chickens may be kept only on the lot where the applicant resides or an adjoining lot.

• Chickens may be kept in side or rear yards only (not in the front yard).

A number of residents of rural communities spoke on problems currently realized with personal poultry operations.

“Basically, unless they have previously received an exception, anyone with chickens currently on property located in the rural communities of Sexton, Glenwood, Milroy, Arlington, Manilla and Homer are in violation of county zoning ordinances. Carthage is not affected because they have their own ordinance for the town of Carthage,” county surveyor and interim APC director Marvin Rees said.

Following comments from county residents, the commissioners turned their attention to enforcing the proposed ordinance and those found in violation of its requirements.

If passed as written, once the exception is granted and no violations are reported - every three years the exception is renewed automatically.

“Enforcement of the ordinance is the issue with regard to co-joining neighbors. How do we do this? If you are going to write an ordinance you must have a means of enforcing it. What are the ramifications and fines that can be imposed for violations,” commissioner Bruce Levi said.

Commissioners Mark Bacon and Ken Masters also questioned if APC and BZA members had attached monetary penalties in place in the event of repeated violations.

Rees said that topic had not been discussed other than there is a fine provision in regards to other types of livestock violations in the county’s current livestock ordinance.

Following a lengthy discussion, the county leaders made no decision on the matter and asked that the BZA to revisit the matter at their next meeting (April 29) and return to the commissioners with their decision at a later date.

Contact: Frank Denzler @ 765.932.2222 x106.