Multiple commissioners voiced their approval about to asking residents if they want to allow chickens at homes in city limits via next March’s municipal ballot.
Advocates in favor of and against the rule change have taken the first 30 to 45 minutes of each meeting to discuss their opinions in front of the commission for about the last half-year.
Now, the Valparaiso Commissioners have begun the process to put the question to the voters in a non-binding referendum in March, 2024.
The commissioners must pass an ordinance allowing citizens to vote to make the referendum a reality. This requires the first step – asking the city attorney to draw up a proposed ordinance to vote on next month. The commission took that step at their June meeting on Monday. This means the commission could have its first vote on the ordinance to allow a referendum in July – and have a second hearing in August. If a decision to add the chicken question to the ballot succeeds twice – it will be added to the ballot for the March 2024 municipal election cycle.
A non-binding referendum, which is what the commission discussed at length at Monday’s meeting, would allow voters to have their say in the matter. However, the final decision on chickens would still be up to the commissioners themselves. They would still have to pass an ordinance change for any change to take effect.
Currently, the city doesn’t allow roosters or hens to be maintained inside of city limits. A citizen advocacy group called ‘The Coop’ has argued that the current ordinance should be abandoned and hen-raising should be allowed to take place in the city limits so people can provide their own eggs and other benefits. Others, who want to keep the restriction against hens in the city, say bears and other wild animals would begin to prowl the city for poultry.
So, will chickens appear on the March, 2024 ballot in Valparaiso? It’s looking more and more possible.