The Porter Town Council said it needs more time to research whether chickens
should be allowed in residential zones. Members Jeannine Virtue and David
Woodrich expressed opposing views on urban chickens.
Current town code restricts keeping certain domestic animals or fowl
including chickens to a minimum of five contiguous acres of land in town;
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.
Three weeks ago Eric Joll of Michigami Trail requested permission to bring
back the chickens he had for at least seven years but had to get rid of this
past year when he learned they were illegal.
In that letter he said the chickens provided fresh eggs and natural pest
control, dethatched and fertilized the yard as well as ate food leftovers
that otherwise would have gone to waste.
Having chickens is sustainable living and good for the environment, he told
the council Tuesday. “If you care for them responsibly they’re not a
nuisance at all and they’re fun, they’re like pets.”
Joll said he previously had a rooster for a short time and the neighbor
complained so the rooster was relocated. One audience member asked if
peacocks would be allowed. Joll said the Porter ordinance does allow having
up to 25 homing pigeons.
Council president Elka Nelson said she was surprised her research showed
other urban areas allow chickens with certain restrictions, but those
ordinances have some kind of local animal control board. In Porter, “I’m not
sure who to give chicken jurisdiction to.” She said chickens should be
registered with someone to make sure they are not intended for animal
cruelty such as cockfighting.
Wodrich lives near Joll and said he doesn’t see a problem amending the
ordinance so it’s adaptable for neighborhoods.
For his Third Coast Spice Cafe and Lemon Tree restaurants, Woodrich said he
wants fresh ingredients that aren’t genetically engineered like much of
today’s food supply, and he encouraged people to get back to eating true
Virtue said she has concerns about allowing chickens across the board in
residential areas, especially when there’s high density; there are certain
town standards and county standards and Porter has areas not meant for farm
Virtue also said hens can outlive their usefulness so some animal shelters
are overwhelmed with drop-offs, and chickens can carry salmonella.
Joll’s wife Samantha said turtles can carry salmonella and people should use
proper sanitation with all pets. “It’s no different than a chicken in your
back yard.” She said they have a fenced back yard and fencing could be
required in an ordinance change. Jennifer Klug recommended fencing the
Joy Joll said it’s better that children are around farm animals because it
builds up their immune systems.
Pilar Berman said it might be acceptable to allow three to five chickens if
the property is a minimum one acre or more. Virtue agreed. Nelson said the
typical Porter residential lot is 60 feet by 120 feet, less than an acre.
Other city/town ordinances can be reviewed, but as a community Porter
generally likes to make its own decisions, said Nelson. “We probably can
figure this out on our own. We just need to figure out how it works.”
If the Town Council decides to allow chickens in urban zones, a proposed
ordinance amendment would be forwarded to the Porter Plan Commission for
consideration, a public hearing and recommendation to the council for final
In January the City of South Bend amended various sections of its zoning
code by including regulations that allow keeping no more than six hens;
standards are given for a chicken coop or pen. Obtaining an annual $20 urban
chicken permit is required.
23rd Street paving near
Public Works supervisor Brenda Brueckheimer said paving is scheduled for
23rd Street from Wood Street to the Chesterton/Porter town boundary. While
the road will not be widened, it will be remilled and repaved adding a crown
to better drain water. Additional shoulder work will be done at a later
A resident said repaving won’t help, but Brueckheimer asked to give the
improvements time to prove themselves. Other Porter paving is planned for
Porter Avenue when the lift station construction is completed, Lincoln
Street when the new Indiana American water mains are done, and portions of
League Lane and Woodlawn Avenue.
Opt-out payment tabled
Nelson said more information is being sought on how to structure payments to
any town employee eligible for health coverage who opts out a qualifying
spouse who can be covered under another plan.
The council is seeking clarification whether a town employee who proves they
can have health coverage elsewhere also can opt out; in either case the town
employee could receive $3,000 per year paid over 26 pay periods. Officials
have said despite the payouts the town would be money ahead.
In other business:
* Terry Gault asked when missing sidewalks would be installed along Lincoln.
Brueckheimer said not this year but they’re on the town’s radar.
* The council gave first reading to an ordinance banning parking on both
sides of Summertree Drive from Waverly Road to Saddleback Drive. Patrons of
Seven Peaks Waterpark have been parking on Summertree. A final vote for
adoption is required.
* Brueckheimer said Aug. 25 is the last week for brush pick-up until Oct. 1
when leaf/brush pick-up resumes. This year her department has had 238 calls
for pick-up above its normal volume. Brush/leaf schedules are available
online or by calling 926-4212.
* Porter’s electronic-waste collections have netted 561 items such as
computers or 9,300 pounds of recycling that would have gone to landfills.
* In 2012 Porter’s four USAgain drop-off sites for unwanted shoes, clothing
and other textiles collected 11,517 pounds or 66 cubic yards diverted from
* Brueckheimer said Porter installed the first two of six planned pet-waste
stations; the project is sponsored by the town Stormwater Board to help
prevent pet waste from contaminating groundwater.
* Porter Park director Brian Bugajski said tonight at 7 p.m. the final
outdoor concert at Hawthorne Park takes place. City Lights will entertain
and vendors will be on-site. Free dance lessons begin at 6 p.m. in the
* The Town Council next meets Aug. 27. Nelson said the Sept. 10 council
meeting likely will be canceled, a special public budget meeting take place
Sept. 17 and a public hearing on the proposed 2014 budget take place Sept.