Over 300 Resident Signatures Received in Favor of Amending NJ Animal Ordinance

Although a petition was presented during the North Judson City Council’s regular session, no further action was taken on the animal ordinance. The Council members say further research must be done before any changes can be made.

During a meeting in July, the council said they would consider allowing chickens within city limits if 300 resident signatures in favor of amending or replacing the current ordinance could be submitted before the end of August. Sarah Burkett, the resident pushing for an urban chicken ordinance to be implemented, turned in a petition with 337 resident signatures to the North Judson Town Hall on August 28th.

Town Council President Wendy Hoppe spoke of some citizen concerns that have been brought up to her attention in regards to potential disease that the birds could carry. She referenced a case where a 2-year-old from South Bend died from ‘Chicken Fever’ which she described as a respiratory disorder caused by inhaling toxic fumes from animal waste.

Burkett answered back by saying certain communicable diseases are not limited to chickens, listing a plethora of ailments that can come from deer, dogs, cats and other animals. She also said there should be safety precautions and records in place to ensure the permitted animals aren’t at risk for spreading disease,

Burkett said, “Our chickens are tested every year. I would never want anyone to be hurt, but again we have had chickens for how long and we have picked them up and we have washed our hands and we have not had any illness.”

Council Member John Rowe said that as of that meeting, there will be no change to the ordinance since more research must be done into matters such as waste disposal, lot size and adjacent neighbor concerns.

A public comment called the council’s ability into question, claiming they should work towards managing ordinances and disposing of outdated ones rather than amending this one. Town Marshall Kelly Fisher replied by saying the Code Enforcement Officers have been a big step forward and have made great strides in enforcing ordinances. They invited the concerned citizen to present his observations to Police and the Ordinance Enforcers.

The animal ordinance matter will be revisited during the next town council meeting on October 2nd. Burkett said she’s wiling to provide all the information she’s received from the United States Poultry Association and different universities who have been in contact with her since the start of this initiative if it will assist council members in their future decisions.