Hens are one step closer to being allowed in Warsaw city limits.
Warsaw City Council Monday approved an ordinance 4 to 3 on first reading that would allow hens in the city limits. The ordinance will again be presented for a second reading at the council’s May 19 meeting.
Council members Cindy Dobbins, Jerry Frush, Mike Klondaris and Jeff Grose voted in favor of the ordinance. Council members Elaine Call, Charlie Smith and Diane Quance voted against the ordinance.
Tim Dombrosky, assistant city planner, presented four amendments to the ordinance. The amendments require anyone who wants to keep chickens to complete a chicken keeping class provided by City of Warsaw Planning Department; the permit holder must display a permit tag provided by the planning department on the approved coop; a limit of 25 permits are allowed to be issued until the ordinance is reviewed by the council and the ordinance expires May 2, 2016, and may be reviewed and re-established prior to this date.
The ordinance allows as many as five hens on 0.25 acres or more of property in the Warsaw city limits; four hens on 0.125 to 0.25 acres of property; and no hens allowed on property less than 0.125 acres.
The council previously reviewed the ordinance at its April 21 meeting, but did not approve it because there were not enough members present.
Call and Smith voted against the amendments for the ordinance Monday.
Smith said he spoke with numerous constituents who did not want chickens in the city limits.
“One of the rights I’m struggling with is the rights of the neighbors and other taxpayers, and I think that is a number far greater than the 25 permits or others who would like to have this,” Smith said.
“What’s next after this? A goat for goat milk? To me that is agriculture and belongs in the county, not within the city limits.” Smith said.
Pat Loebs, Grace College communications professor, said chickens are domesticated birds.
“We’ve got geese down by the lake and parakeets live in homes,” Loebs said. “These are birds. They are not cattle or horses or goats and to propose the idea we are heading down a slippery slope where suddenly water buffalo will be grazing down main street is nonsensical.”
Call said she is not in favor of the ordinance without waivers that would require neighbors to sign off on allowing hens.
Dobbins said she has received comments from residents, half of which support the ordinance and half who don’t.
“I think some of the restrictions that are in the amendment are going to be good and help cover some of the issues,” Dobbins said.
Grose said having chickens is about the rights of the individual property owners and rights of the neighborhood. He thanked the plan commission and plan department for adding more restrictions to the ordinance.
“I think the petitioners have provided restrictions to protect neighbors’ relieve concerns,” Grose said. “This is a very balanced effort and good proposal.”
Klondaris said he supported the ordinance.
“I feel personally like we need to give it a shot,” Klondaris said.
James Bausch, Warsaw resident who first presented the proposal for the chickens to be allowed in city limits, said property values will not go down.
“Hundreds of cities around the nation have already passed this ordinance and there is no evidence at all that a chicken ordinance will decrease property values,” Bausch said.
Dr. Carla Carlton, Lake City Animal Clinic, attended and said there needs to be adequate space and a water supply for the hens.