Laura Madigan said
it’s a mistake for her to have six chickens at her 1st Street home without
prior permission, but she made an impassioned plea Tuesday before the Porter
Town Council to keep them.
chickens as lively, entertaining pets with a wide variety of benefits
including less noise or odor than most dogs in her neighborhood.
Madigan’s next-door neighbor, said retroactive approval shouldn’t be given
for what he described as a nuisance that can spread disease, endanger wells,
lower nearby property values, and attract animals like coyotes and foxes
that are dangerous to children.
Mike countered each allegation and said chickens are consistent with the
greener lifestyle a growing number of people seek; he urged Porter to commit
itself to living green as a model for other communities.
The council decided
to review whether town code should be amended regarding urban chickens and
to revisit the matter at its June 24 meeting.
Stinson said he asked Madigan to present her request last night but the
topic wasn’t listed on the agenda because no final decision would be made.
In July, 2013
resident Eric Joll of Michigami Trail asked the council to allow chickens in
residential zones; members asked for more time to study the matter but
changing the ordinance never was discussed.
Current town code
restricts keeping certain domestic animals or fowl including chickens to a
minimum of 5 contiguous acres of land; the land must be enclosed by a fence,
and any animal shelter/feeding station must be no closer than 50 feet from
an adjoining property line.
presentation Laura Madigan confirmed her property is 1/4-acre in size.
Council member Elka
Nelson said some people live on 25-foot lots in Porter. “We have to give
consideration to people who might have to end up with a (chicken) coop under
Wodrich said he favors allowing one or two chickens with a proper coop, in
part because one chicken usually lays one egg per day. Nelson said the
number of chickens has to be based on more than how many eggs a family
needs. She noted that hens only produce eggs for a limited time, so what
happens when they stop laying?
agreed no roosters would be allowed under any circumstances.
Pomeroy said people choose to live either in town or in a more rural area
for a reason, and it’s not right to impose country living on urban areas.
Council member Jeannine Virtue was absent.
submitted a three-page letter to council members addressing many of the
concerns raised last year when urban chickens first were addressed. Nelson
said she needs time to study the information, and Pomeroy said he wouldn’t
second any motion setting a deadline to complete his review.
an online petition supporting Madigan with postings from other cities and
states. “They have no rights to dictate what happens in Porter,” he said.
Madigan asked if she carried a Porter-only petition, how many signatures
would be needed to impress the council?
Nelson said she
didn’t know if it’s a matter of numbers alone. “If we change the ordinance,
we can’t change it for your block; we have to change it for the entire
building commissioner Mike Barry also needs time to research the
implications of allowing urban chickens. Barry noted oversight jurisdiction
and enforcement were considerations brought up last year. Stinson said the
existing ordinance regarding chickens needs to be enforced now.
From the audience
Karen Pisowicz reminded officials of the unsuccessful battle that’s been
waged since 2010 to rid a Porter home of more than 100 cats.
Also Tuesday, the
council voted 4-0 to forward to the Porter Plan Commission proposed changes
to town code regarding fences. The commission will conduct a public hearing,
then make a recommendation to the Town Council regarding final adoption.
approved was a $250,000 interfund loan from CEDIT to the Porter general fund
to cover town operating expenses pending disbursement of the town’s spring
By a 4-0 vote
Porter and its Fire Department agreed to the terms of a 2014 fire-protection
contract with Westchester Township. Based on responding to 16.4 percent of
the 2013 fire calls there, Porter will be paid $6,200 this year.
The Town Council
voted unanimously to donate $500 to the Duneland Business Initiative Group,
co-sponsor of the July 4 Family 4th Fest in Hawthorne Park. DBIG had
requested $1,000 and Nelson recommended donating the larger amount. A
public-assembly permit also was approved for 4th Fest parade; theme this
year is Old Glory and entries are asked to be decorated red, white and blue.
Barry announced the
Brickyard Trail pedestrian bridge over U.S. 20 is open after a long delay. A
ribbon-cutting will be scheduled soon.
Park director Brian
Bugajski said the Memorial Day remembrance service at Hawthorne Park will
take place May 26 at 1 p.m. there. Officials from Porter, Chesterton and
Burns Harbor will present wreaths, and a veteran’s group will participate.
council members thanked the Chesterton Slammers baseball league for a $500
donation for upkeep of the Hawthorne Park ballfield, where Slammers play was
approved for the season.
Carol Pomeroy’s request to spend up to $4,000 for the town hall telephone
system was OK’d. She and police chief James Spanier said the system at the
nearby police station has excess capacity with multiple vacant lines and by
combining the two systems, telecommunications bills for the town hall can be