GOSHEN — Urban chicken advocates flocked to the Goshen City Council meeting Tuesday, March 4, in support of an ordinance that would allow residents to keep hens on properties within city limits.
The city council unanimously approved a first reading of the ordinance Tuesday night, but some minor changes could be on the way before council members put it to a final vote in two weeks.
Some council members have expressed concern about the placement of chicken coops on properties, and others have questioned the number of birds residents are allowed to have based on property sizes. Other concerns raised by council members included the odor of chickens, potential for disease and methods of getting rid of unwanted chickens.
Supporters voiced various reasons why they would want to keep chickens, many saying they would like to have their own source of eggs, and others said they want to teach their kids responsibility and where their food comes from. John Nafziger, a spokesman for Hens for Goshen, was among roughly 50 people who showed up to the council's first reading of the ordinance. He said the city's support of the ordinance "would make sure Goshen does not fall behind the times."
"Allowing urban chickens is a popular, growing movement with a full spectrum of supporters from libertarians to locavores," he said. "If approved, Goshen will join at least 14 municipalities in Indiana alone that allow hens, including South Bend, Muncie, Lafayette and Indianapolis to name a few and hundreds across the nation."
If passed as written, city residents would be allowed to own up to six female chickens, though roosters and other types of fowl would be prohibited. The chickens would be kept as pets or for personal use. Breeding or slaughtering chickens, and selling eggs and fertilizer would not be allowed.
All chickens would be required to be kept outside in an enclosure with a chicken coop and a pen. The enclosure should be at least 15 feet from property lines and at least 20 feet from any adjacent homes, churches, schools or businesses, according to the ordinance.
The ordinance's second reading will be at 7 p.m. March 18 at the council chambers, 111 E. Jefferson St.
Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.