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Ordinance to allow Goshen residents to keep chickens fails

The city council voted Tuesday night, March 18, to turn down an ordinance that would have allowed city residents to keep up to six hens.

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 8:33 a.m.

GOSHEN — Residents who live in the city of Goshen will not hear the sound of chickens clucking in their neighbors’ backyards any time soon.

Urban chicken advocates left the Goshen City Council meeting disappointed after officials decided Tuesday night, March 18, to turn down an ordinance that would have allowed city residents to keep hens on their properties.

John Nafziger, a spokesman for Hens for Goshen, said he expected the vote to be a close call.

“I thought we gave some very cogent arguments, but unfortunately, I think fear took over,” he said after the meeting. “They had some legitimate concerns, but I think concerns about property values were a little bit overblown.”

In addition to public health concerns, councilman Brett Weddell said he had spoken with realtors who told him that chickens in city limits would have a negative impact on property values. Councilmen Jim McKee, Edward Ahlersmeyer, Jeremy Stutsman and Weddell voted against the ordinance to allow urban chickens. Council members Dixie Robinson and Everett Thomas voted in favor. Councilwoman Julia Gautsche was not at the meeting.

Before voting, council members discussed creating a $50 registration fee for people who wanted to keep chickens on their properties. They also talked about a two-year trial period for the ordinance.

Paul Steury, a Goshen resident who spoke at the public hearing, said he was not planning to have chickens because his yard is too small but was there to support friends.

“I feel allowing chickens is a sign of a progressive city, so this is kind of a setback because it seems like they weren’t listening to the majority,” Steury said after the meeting.

Nafziger said he hopes the city will revisit the ordinance at some point.

Follow Elkhart Truth reporter Angelle Barbazon on Twitter at @tweetangelle.


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