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Whiteland delays vote to end ban on backyard chickens

WHITELAND, Ind. (WISH) — Whiteland town leaders on Tuesday night postponed until June a vote to change a prohibition of backyard chickens for most residents.

Shawn and Elizabeth Bulter approached the Town Council to attempt to change the ordinance banning their backyard chickens. They said the town had received an anonymous complaint about their chickens. The couple said because the location of their coop was not in compliance, they could be fined $500 a chicken. That has not yet been adjudicated.

“It shouldn’t have been a rule to begin with,” Shawn Butler said. “This Town Council doesn’t pay my property tax. They get money from me; therefore, I shouldn’t have to get permission to do what I want to do on my property.”

The council postponed the vote to have more time to consider the issue.

Carmen Young, the Whiteland community development director, said, “The council, three out of the five, decided this is something they can consider so kind of went through the process and determined it needed to be an amendment to our ordinance.”

The Whiteland Plan Commission had earlier given input on changing the ordinance, providing an unfavorable recommendation.

“We’re not against the chicken ordinance per se. We just thought it ought to been done in the opposite way,” said Gary Howard, president of the Whiteland Plan Commission. “Instead of having the situation where you have someone that’s in noncompliance and we’re making the ordinance real quick to soothe that person over, we should have done it the other way.”

Shawn Butler pointed out benefits to chickens; he wants to be self-sufficient.

“I have a section that’s 50 feet by 50 feet for all my chickens so they have more than enough room to roam, and I say I want to be able to provide for myself and I want to be able to not rely on a grocery store,” Shawn Butler said.

The opposition to backyard chickens is concerned with disease, smell, noise and wastewater runoff.
The Butlers said hens are quiet, and the couple use the droppings as a natural fertilizer. They note wild geese and chemical fertilizers also create runoff.