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Portage

PORTAGE — Residents here moved one step closer to being able to have chickens, ducks and rabbits living at their homes.

An ordinance introduced recently by City Councilman John Cannon, R-4th, would allow residents to raise up to two chickens, ducks and rabbits on their residential properties. Roosters won't be allowed.

Cannon termed the animals as 4-H animals, but the ordinance won't limit ownership to 4-H members. There is no age limit or condition of being a 4-H member attached to the ordinance.

"It is important to encourage children and teenagers to get involved in 4-H," he said.

The current proposal comes after the council voted against an ordinance in November which would have allowed homeowners to keep up to four chickens on their property.

At the recent council meeting, the ordinance was approved 4-3 on its first reading. Five votes are needed for adoption on the first reading. The ordinance will be up for final approval at the council's Feb. 6 meeting.

Council members Mark Oprisko, D-at-large; Liz Modesto, D-1st; and Pat Clem, D-2nd, voted against the proposal. In addition to Cannon, council members Sue Lynch, D-at-large; Collin Czilli, D-5th; and Scott Williams, D-3rd, voted in favor of the measure.

Modesto said she received "10 to 15 phone calls" from residents who don't want chickens in their neighbors' back yards.

"I do not want any type of farm animals in back yards," she said, adding some lots are small within the city.

"We have not had one call at city hall against it. We get calls weekly asking if they can," said Mayor James Snyder, who supports the proposal, adding it will allow Portage children to participate in 4-H projects.

Oprisko said he would like to have a lot size condition attached to the ordinance.

The proposal would require those owning the animals to provide proper shelter, food and water and require them to be kept in the rear yards of the property, housed in sanitary conditions.

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Porter County reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for more than 38 years, including 23 years with The Times. She covers municipal and school government in Valparaiso and Portage.