Crying fowl: Board of Works discuss flawed chicken ordinance

·4 min read

Jul. 21—When animal concerns are reported, typically a cat or a dog is involved.

But on Wednesday, the Logansport Board of Public Works and Safety — once again — dealt with chickens. It seems to be an ongoing issue throughout the city, and board member Lisa Terry put it very succinctly: "Chickens are not allowed within city limits."

So, if anyone is housing chickens in a garage, shed, or even inside a residence, the birds need to be removed, she said, adding that the demand for removal includes chickens that may be wandering around someone's lawn.

Bridgett Milburn, property manager for ReVere Homes, told the board that during one of her site inspections, she observed chickens at a neighbor's property, which was not part of her group. She reported the incident, but was informed that due to Logansport's ordinance, 2010-16, there is no enforcement available.

Logansport Police Chief Travis Yike said the ordinance's definition section clearly states that farm animals, including chickens, should not be kept in city limits. However, there is no section stating where animals could be taken once removed from a person's property.

Further, he said, there is no section that details what officers and the animal control officer can or cannot do.

Dep. Mayor Jacob Pomasl agreed that "it is a bad ordinance."

Generally, said the deputy mayor, there is a definition section followed by an enforcement part. But that doesn't seem to be the case here.

However, Terry said, it shouldn't stop officers or other city officials from being able to take a copy of the ordinance to a violator and showing the person that he or she is going against local law. And if it's an issue of where to take animals that need to be confiscated, she advised that the city should make it fall onto the violators' shoulders.

"Tell them to remove the chickens from the site," she said. These folks are the ones causing the problem, so they can fix it, she said, directing her comment to those who harbor farm animals within city limits. "It's your responsibility to get rid of them."

Code Enforcement Officer Randy Ulery said he has told violators exactly what Terry is suggesting, and so far, people have been accommodating. "I don't know what they do with them," he said, but the birds are removed from the properties.

But this problem seems to be a wide-scale issue, with the police chief and others seeking better, clearer ordinance language.

Terry agreed with Yike's stance. "I want a consistent response," she said. "We're working on it, and people need to know that there are no chickens allowed within the city limits. No exceptions."

The other thing people should be aware of, according to Mayor Chris Martin, is that properties must be kept in order and maintained.

While he appreciates when homeowners attend meetings to answer for violations, Martin informed Ann Harmon, who updated the board on the cleanup of 533 Reynolds St., that after six years of dealing with violations by her husband, Ronald Harmon, the time is nearing for no more excuses.

Pomasl said of the couple's residence that there's "a lot of mess for two people. There's too much stuff. Get rid of it. Get a dumpster and get rid of it."

It's also a lot for two people to clean up, Terry added.

Harmon said she has been working six days a week and her husband recently had back surgery, which has resulted in his inability to provide much help. However, the couple, along with family members, intend to work this weekend gathering debris and articles thrown about in their lawn for trash collection.

Martin suggested that they start cleaning up the area most visible to neighbors and then work their way back toward the house.

Despite back-and-forth debate about why the cleanup has not happened yet, the board approved an extension to Aug. 4. The mayor cautioned, though, that "this is your last shot. You've got two weeks."

In other business:

Jan Fawley, Logansport Parks & Recreation Department administrator, said the Welcome Center, which was the old Salvation Army building in the 400 block of Fourth Street, will be razed next week. Crews from Merritt Contracting of Lebanon are set to begin demolition work on Monday, July 26.

Then, work will begin on relocation of the signal bridge, she said. Eventually, the hope is that this will be the future site of a downtown urban park, where concerts could be held and an ice rink could be available during the winter months.

Reach Kristi Hileman at kristi.hileman@pharo stribune.com or 574-732-5150

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