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