Ordinance would allow Niles Twp. residents to keep chickens

Published 9:06 am Friday, November 20, 2015

Niles Township residents could keep as many as six chickens in residential areas according to a new ordinance being considered by the township’s board of trustees.

Peg Hartman, the township’s zoning administrator, said the keeping of chickens is currently allowed only in agricultural districts.

The new ordinance was created, she said, in response to requests from residents living in residential areas and also to a growing interest in the “farm to table movement,” where people are becoming more interested in knowing where the food they eat comes from.

“I’ve had requests from at least a dozen people who are interested and want to be notified when the ordinance passes,” she said. “Others have expressed an interest but did not ask to be notified.”

The board was scheduled to do a first reading of the ordinance Monday, but the item was tabled until its Dec. 7 meeting because Hartman was not able to be at the meeting to answer questions.

In order for the ordinance to pass, it must be read twice at a public meeting and then approved by members of the board

of trustees.

According to the proposed ordinance, residents would be able to keep as many as six chickens, but no roosters, in a residential area.

The amount of chickens a person could keep depends on the size of a person’s chicken coop (indoor space) and fenced outdoor area.

A person would need four square feet of indoor space and 10 square feet of outdoor space for each chicken. The maximum indoor space allowed is 24 square feet and the maximum outdoor space allowed is 60 square feet — enough for six chickens.

Chickens would not be allowed in a residence, porch or attached garage. They would have to be confined to the coop and a fully enclosed, fenced outdoor area with a fence at least six feet high.

Chicken coops would also have to be located 25 feet away from the rear and side property lines if adjoining properties are residential in use.

Residents who keep chickens would also be required to regularly clean the area and could not sell poultry products if they are located in a residential area.

An annual license would be required to keep chickens at a cost of $20.

Hartman said she is uncertain of how many township residents are currently keeping chickens and that the license would be helpful in allowing them to track the number of people keeping chickens and the number of chickens in the township.

The ordinance also allows the township the discretion to revoke a person’s permit if a neighbor makes a complaint regarding noise or odor due to the chickens.

A person in violation of the ordinance could be fined as few as $75 and as many as $500 for a first offense. The minimum fines increase from there for multiple offenses, but the maximum fine never rises above $500.

Anyone with questions regarding the proposed ordinance can attend the board of trustees Dec. 7 meeting at the township hall, 320 Bell Road, in Niles.