Niles Twp. chicken ordinance moving forward

Published 10:37 am Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Niles Charter Township residents are one step closer to being able to legally keep chickens.

On Monday, the township’s board of trustees unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that would allow people in residential areas to have as many as six chickens.

There was no discussion of the ordinance by the board, which is expected to vote on whether or not to adopt it at its next regular meeting Dec. 21.

Zoning Administrator Peg Hartman said the ordinance was created because several residents have expressed interest in keeping chickens — something that is currently allowed only in agricultural districts.

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.

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.

Those wanting to keep chickens would have to obtain an annual license at a cost of $20.

People in violation of the ordinance would be subject to fines. The entire ordinance can be viewed on the township’s website at

Also Monday:

• Treasurer Jim Ringler informed the board that the township would need to increase its contributions to the pension fund for fire and police employees. The fund, he said, is underfunded by about $2.5 million. He said it is not unusual for pension funds to be underfunded and that the township would spread out increased contributions over a period of 20 years in order to catch up.

• The board accepted the resignation of Don Padgett from the Niles District Library Board of Trustees. Supervisor Jim Stover said the board is looking for a replacement and that anyone interested should contact the township hall at 684-0870.

• The board acknowledged that it received a petition from residents who want to create a special assessment district in order to fund road improvements for a portion of Harrah Road between Morris Drive and North Phillip Road. Stover said the next step would be for the Berrien County Road Commission to provide a cost estimate for the project. Stover also said he and the clerk would need to verify the signatures on the petition.

• The board approved the first reading of a new zoning ordinance that the board is expected to vote on during its Dec. 21 meeting.