Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Backyard chicken plan could be hatched in Burns Harbor

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Already popular in cities and towns as a way to grow food organically and cheaply, the so-called “urban homesteading” trend, a proposal to allow residents to raise chickens is being developed by the Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission.

At the Commission’s meeting Monday night, Vice-President Andy Bozak presented the most recent draft of the ordinance that he, along with members Gordon McCormick and Crystal Westphal, have worked on as a committee.

It would allow up to six chickens per single family dwelling, however roosters -- who have a tendency to crow-- would be prohibited.

Apart from chickens, all other poultry and farm animals would be banned.

McCormick was not present Monday and the Commission postponed voting on a recommendation to the Town Council so he could have the chance to give additional input.

Also absent from the meeting was President Eric Hull.

As drafted, the ordinance would require that chickens be kept in a coop, with a fenced-in run, at the rear of the property with a minimum setback.

Coops would be required to have a roof and be predator resistant.

Owners would be required to regularly maintain and clean the coop so as not to pose a safety issue or health hazard. Water for the chickens would need to be provided at all times.

Ordinances allowing chickens in incorporated areas have been on the rise. Chesterton passed such an ordinance unanimously in 2014, allowing a maximum of four hens on residences with a half-acre or less.

Valparaiso passed a similar ordinance last month.

In 2013, the Porter Town Council explored the possibility of allowing chickens but ended up not going forward.

Burns Harbor already has a special district in its north section that permits chickens, but the question of where chickens would be allowed is still on the table.

Building Commissioner Bill Arney and Town Attorney Christine McWilliams questioned if a five-foot set back is enough for some districts or if it should be further.

Arney said some districts should be excluded, industrial being one.

The Commission and Arney also discussed where in the Town Code the ordinance would be included. Chapter 3 pertains to animals in town while Chapter 15 covers zoning rules. Chickens could be considered domestic animals, Arney said.

Commission member Toni Biancardi said what’s important is to ensure that changes to Chapter 3 do not conflict with Chapter 15.

Downtown location

In other business, Town Engineer Shem Khalil advised that the Commission may want to consider updating the Town’s master plan and zoning code regarding its downtown area.

The downtown area in the current plan is at Ind. 149 and U.S. 20. However, as Khalil pointed out, the Redevelopment Commission and the Town Council have looked at the corner of Westport Rd. and Haglund Rd. as the new downtown suggested by the plan made by consultant LiveWorkLearnPlay.

New businesses or developers looking to come to town “don’t like” there being two downtown areas conflicting with each other, Khalil said.

Biancardi suggested putting a committee together to begin drafting changes. Commission member Bernie Poparad said the committee should also try to answer what’s going to be done with the old downtown area.

Khalil said changes to the zoning code would require a public hearing.

Flags

Also on Monday, Arney told the Commission he has had inquiries made to him from businesses about using pennant flags as a form of signage. There is nothing in the Town Code or definitions for pennant flags so “technically they are not allowed,” Arney said he has told the businesses. He said maybe the Commission would recommend adding them to the ordinances.

Arney also suggested rekindling discussions on developing a faŤade standard for the Town. Commission members agreed and Biancardi said there was talk about five years ago to establish standards. She said the Commission could look back at meeting minutes so it can pick up where it left off rather than having to start anew.

In other business:

-- The Commission approved extending a letter of credit with Jeff Ban of Core Construction for another year for Phase 3 of Traditions Village after the current credit expires on Aug. 4.

-- Global Engineering shared the results of its inspection for items to be addressed before the release of the bond on Parkwood Estates. Deficiencies include fixing tripping hazards and sidewalk cracks, tree restoration, sewer and asphalt maintenance. The cost estimate is $12,870.

-- Poparad said the Town Board of Zoning Appeals has been very busy lately. One of their most recent actions included approving a special exception variance for Curley’s Custom Motorcycles, a high-end motorcycle shop which is locating at the corner of U.S. 20 and Ind. 149 in Burns Harbor.

 

Posted 8/3/2016

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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