WARSAW — Their questions were answered and eventually the Kosciusko County Area Planning Commission unanimously approved a request for Wawasee High School to raise chickens on school property. Approval was given during the regular monthly meeting of the APC Wednesday afternoon, July 6, at the county courthouse in Warsaw.
Dan Richard, area planning director, noted the APC needed to decide if the request was a permitted accessory use and considered an educational project or if a separate hearing was needed before the county board of zoning appeals.
Joan Harden, agriculture teacher at WHS, said she and some students began the project and discussed it with school administration. Then Kelly Heckaman of the Purdue Extension Office was contacted and recommended contacting the area planning office.
The proposal was first presented to the APC at its June 1 meeting. Harden was asked to gather additional information and present it to the APC at a future meeting.
APC members had more questions before approval was granted, such as would this be an ongoing project and who would take care of the chickens if school was canceled due to weather for a couple of days. Bob Conley of the APC expressed concern about students transferring things in and out of the coop that could be harmful to the chickens or harmful to animals if the students live on a farm.
Harden noted layer hens would be raised because they grow quicker. She said they would utilize the expertise of Purdue. “We want to push the students to do more research projects,” she added.
Wawasee has contacted the state animal board of health and is registered with the board. She added there is a buffer surrounding the coop, to be located next to the greenhouse on the high school campus, so there would be no interference with other poultry producers.
Harden said biosecurity has been addressed and only agriculture students would be permitted to enter the chicken coop.
Dr. Bruce Lamb, a veterinarian, said it would be a good educational opportunity and also would help promote agriculture. “Most of the students really have no idea what goes on in agriculture,” he said. “They live in town, not on a farm.”
In other business, a proposed amendment to the county’s sign ordinance will be voted on at a public hearing during the Aug. 3 APC meeting. It has been discussed for several months.
What had originally been a request to address the inequity in real estate directional signs developed into revamping the entire sign ordinance for the sake of fairness. Sandy noted the biggest change in the proposed amendments involves temporary signs and the size of signs to be allowed.
The entire section dealing with real estate directional signs would be removed. “We just clumped them all together so we are not calling one (type of sign) out,” he said.
There was some discussion about the section of the ordinance dealing with digital message signs. It will be reworded so as not to be too specific. And Bob Sanders of the APC noted it is too hard to define “right of way” so the wording should reflect “from the edge of the road” instead.
Also on the agenda, the APC recommended approval for rewording a portion of the ordinance dealing with side yard setbacks. It had been challenged in court, so the county attorney recommended a revision to the ordinance making it clearer adjacent property owners don’t necessarily need to be in agreement assuming all the criteria is met.
County commissioners will consider the amendment at their July 26 meeting.