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South Bend backyard chickens proposal gains momentum

Planning commission recommends common council approve the ordinance

October 16, 2012|By Ted Land (tland@wsbt.com), Click here to friend Ted on Facebook | By Ted Land (tland@wsbt.com), Click here to friend Ted on Facebook
  • A proposed ordinance would allow people in South Bend to raise up to six backyard hens. Roosters would not be allowed.
WSBT/Ted Land

A proposal to allow people to raise backyard chickens in South Bend gained momentum, Tuesday, when the planning commission advanced the measure, with a recommendation of approval, to the common council.

A few dozen supporters from a local group called the Urban Chicken Alliance went before the commission to explain why hens wouldn’t be a nuisance.

“More people today care about living sustainably and more cities are rising to the occasion,” said Scott Palmer, a supporter, “it’s not just your Portlands -- it's Chicago, its Bloomington, Cincinnati, Dallas, the list goes on.”

Molly Kaniuga, of St. Joseph County, raises chickens on her property, which sits outside South Bend city limits.

She brought a dozen eggs for show-and-tell during the public hearing.

“All the food keeps going up and more people are interested in where their food comes from and trying to be a little self sustaining,” she said.

Under the proposed ordinance, homeowners who purchase a $20 permit would be allowed to keep up to six hens, no roosters. A volunteer “chicken police” would help make sure people are taking proper care of their birds and not disturbing neighbors.

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But opponents, like Marguerite Taylor, who lives in South Bend, remain unconvinced.

“They're nasty,” she told the commission.

“I buy fresh eggs that came off a farm, that's where chickens belong, they don't belong in the middle of my neighborhood,” she said.

Now that the planning commission has advanced the measure, it’s up to the common council to decide if South Bend should join the list of cities that allow backyard chickens.

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