Poultry expert to discuss residential chicken ordinance with Niles council

Published 9:15 am Friday, April 22, 2016

The person in charge of enforcing an urban chicken policy in South Bend, Indiana, will provide insight into the topic during a committee of the whole meeting after Monday’s Niles City Council meeting.

Matt Harmon, the director of South Bend Animal Care and Control, said he would take questions from the board regarding a proposed ordinance that would allow residents to keep chickens in residential areas in the City of Niles.

Harmon said South Bend enacted its urban chicken ordinance in 2013. His department is in charge of issuing permits for chickens and making sure people are in compliance with the ordinance.

Thus far, Harmon said he has had a lot of positive feedback and very few complaints.

“We never really have many issues from people who aren’t willing to abide by the laws,” he said. “We occasionally have to tweak coops here and there to get them into compliance. Chicken people are generally very happy people.”

Ric Huff, Niles City administrator, said the city does not have a draft ordinance available because the ordinance committee is still reviewing sample ordinances.

He said the city asked Harmon to speak because of his knowledge of the process South Bend went through and what, if any, issues have come up since the ordinance was put in place.

“Hopefully he will provide some information that might help us not make mistakes in our ordinance if the council decides to put one in place,” Huff said.

Harmon, who keeps chickens at his South Bend home, said he was happy to be able to help.

“I think that sort of marriage between urban living and having a miniature sustainability in someone’s backyard is kind of a nice concept,” he said. “Chickens are just great animals to have around too. They are pleasant pets as well as a food producer.”

The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at the Niles Fire Station, which is located at 1345 E. Main St., in Niles. The committee of the whole meeting will begin immediately after the regular council meeting.