So today I wanted to take some time and talk about the Indy Rezone ordinances that are coming down the line. If you haven’t read them yet the link is below. It is 600+ pages and not the easiest read. You need to also know what your property is zoned as when reading.
So my main issue with the new ordinances is restrictions on livestock and gardening in residential areas.
The proposed limit is 10 chickens in a 1/3 acre or less. It does not take into account how the chickens are cared for the size of their enclosure. It is only based on property size. So in theory 10 chickens could be crammed into CAFO style operation as long as under 1/3 acre. I have 0.2 acres and 20 birds. They are allows to run 90% or the property free range. They are happy, well taken care of, and have no issues with smell, disease, etc. They are behind a privacy fence, and are more pets that produce eggs. To arbitrarily say I cannot have more than 10 I feel is a strike against my rights to raise my own food. We are a family of 6 and we do not cull our chickens when they stop laying. They “retire” and live out their lives with the other ladies. We treat them no different than when they were laying. They are still productive in insect control, turning compost, eating our food waste that would go to the landfill, and making rich fertilizer. So as the older birds stop laying and finally pass on we add new birds. But under the current ordinances I have to kill or somehow dispose of my older birds or stop getting eggs because I have hit my max of 10. So why is the number 10 without mention of care, feed, water, actual space to roam etc. Another issue is the requirement to live on the space where the animals are living. This puts up issues for community gardens, schools that have chickens, some retirement centers etc. You also cannot have your chickens in your front yard. Well some corner lots or properties have no back yard and all the space is in the front. Why such a restriction? Is it because people don’t want to see them? I don’t want to watch my 70 year old neighbor mow in her bikini top or her husband mow without a shirt. But that is their prerogative and if they want to let them. It is their life, and their property.
Rabbits no more than 12 on any size lots. Rabbits take up less room than chickens. 2 foot by 3 foot is average pen size for rabbits. They do not need more space than that. They don’t have to forage (although we harvest weeds and grass to feed them fresh greens). If like us you are breeding them for a food source you need 1 buck and 1-2 doe’s. We happen to have 3 because we wanted to be able to have one with kits all the time and give our does a break between. There is 4. Each rabbit can have up to 12 kits. Boom, you are out of compliance. Now you have 10 weeks for the kits to grow out. In that time another doe will drop a litter and maybe the 3rd. But this is all in the space of 12 feet by 6 feet. So tell me how is this impacting my property? They eat the weeds most of my other neighbors spray with toxic chemicals for people, pets, and the environment not to mention the well fields and the runoff. I get great fertilizer for my garden and a food source for my family. Again an arbitrary number.
Goats is another arbitrary number. Maximum of 2 for 1 acre or more. Again arbitrary number. Well if you are having 2 dairy goats for your family, they need to be pregnant in order to give milk. Well if you have 2 does because they do not like to be alone, and she drops 2-4 kids, BOOM, out of compliance. Just because you have 1 acre does not mean that the goats will be able to use 1 acre. I have seen MANY goat operations that use a pen system and are in no way covering 1 acre for as many as 12-20 goats. They goats are pets, are milked, and are considered family. In no way are the goats mismanaged or mistreated. So where does 2 goats per 1 acre come from? I could have six 200+ lb dogs in 0.2 acres and I am in compliance. Is that best for the dogs? Maybe not, but it is within compliance with the ordinances.
Pigs have not been allowed in Marion Co. I can understand for CAFO operations, but a teacup big, that is potty trained as a pet? What is the harm. I believe they should lift the ban on pigs as pets, or for family food. If it is commercial operation, I would stand with the ban. 2-4 pigs rotated on 1 acre have little to no smell, and take care of additional wastes that would otherwise go to the landfill.
Lastly a garden can only occupy 75% of your property. Well I practice edible landscaping, and have no use for lawn. Why should I be forced to have a lawn if it does nothing for me or my family?
So that those are my main issues. I have others, but that is the biggest at the moment. I have voiced my concerns and to their benefit, as much as I can tell, they are listening to what people have to say. They are soliciting comments. These are not effective yet, and you can help shape how they are written. I do applaud the bio-swales for rainwater runoff and other positive changes. I just had issues when they impact my lifestyle and that of my family. Maybe a tour of areas and show the committee what a successful system looks like. I do also have to applaud the marketing team for Rezone. I have heard the ads on the radio and it sounds like everyone is super excited because change is good, and great, and wonderful. That is until the enforcement of the new ordinances rain on your parade. If you haven’t read them, or checked out the site, I would suggest you do so and get your own opinion, and get informed.