Update: Urban chicken ordinance passes

South Bend is the home of the Silver Hawks, and now has passed an ordinance that welcomes back another bird that has long been banned.

The urban chicken debate ended tonight with a six to three vote on the part of the South Bend Common Council.

Throughout the day on Monday officials seemed fairly certain the city chicken ordinance would pass.

“Quite optimistic” is the phrase used to describe the chances for passage by urban chicken ordinance author and Councilman Henry Davis, Jr., (D) Second District. “Just something very new, and different to the area, I don’t think there’s a misconception of anything, just something new and usually when we see something new we always kind of pull back and sometimes become afraid or apprehensive about it.”

Conversations with several council members on Monday afternoon indicate that the measure will likely pass, but that the vote will not be unanimous, and at least one amendment will be offered.

“I support the concept of urban chickens, I think it’s something that's kind of cool, kind of hip especially,” said Councilman At Large Gavin Ferlic. However, I would like to see a neighborhood waiver perhaps in place just to kind of settle any disagreements between neighbors before they actually start.”

Councilman Ferlic wants to require that urban chicken enthusiasts get signed permission from their neighbors before bringing in any birds. “It would be just part of the permitting process, when you turn in a permit you would just turn in the signature sheet just verifying that your neighbors are okay with you having urban chickens.”

As written, the ordinance would allow up to six hens in the backyard of a single family residence, provided the coup was 15 feet from the lot line and 20 feet from the nearest residence. “With the type of people who are going to be doing this, I think they’re going to be conscientious of going through all the paperwork to just, if they want the eggs and that type of thing for their families, I think they're going to take care of everything they need to so we'll just adjust it on the fly if we have to,” said Council President Derek Dieter.

The ordinance would allow urban chickens for “non-commercial” purposes only, meaning that neither the eggs nor the manure could be sold.

Tonight’s meeting started at 7:00 p.m.

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