BERRIEN SPRINGS — Could the chicken issue be coming back for discussion in Oronoko Township? A local resident hopes so, but didn’t get any encouragement from the township board this week.
Myung Park lives on Lilac Lane near Kephart Lane in the township. He told board members he would like to raise six to 10 chickens in his backyard. He noted both that other area municipalities allow people to raise chickens in residential areas and that chickens are no smellier than dogs, which are allowed.
“A couple of years ago we had folks who had chickens and neighbors came in and complained because of the noise and smell,” Supervisor Mike Hildebrand said. He also answered Park’s claims about other municipalities – including the village of Berrien Springs – allowing chickens, saying that each municipality is different and constructs their own rules.
Clerk Suzanne Renton noted that the township continues to not allow any farm animals in residential areas. “It’s been a long-standing situation that there can be no farm animals in R1 and R2 districts,” she said. “If you want them, you have to live in an agricultural district.”
Also this week, board members approved an updated ordinance reiterating the township’s decision to opt out of allowing recreational marijuana facilities in the township. They took the action because the state has expanded the types of marijuana activities allowed, such as consumption centers or one-time events, which weren’t initially envisioned.
Board members learned from Fire Chief Bruce Stover that the township and village’s ISO (Insurance Service Company) ratings have improved in the most recent report released. The township and village were last rated in 2013.
Stover said the improved ratings for the village, the township and Andrews University have the potential to reduce people’s property insurance rates. He said statewide, the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Fire Department ratings are better than the most other departments, with only 115 departments scoring better and 1,528 departments scoring worse.
Also on Tuesday, township Treasurer Larry Schalk gave an update on the township’s new rental housing ordinance. He said more than $53,000 in registration fees has been collected from local landlords so far. Those fees will cover the inspection and other expenses incurred over the next two years before the next registration cycle begins. Stover said over 80 percent of landlords have registered.
The township board approved an upgrade to Salem Cemetery on Scottdale Road. Hildebrand said an anonymous donor is providing the money to construct a parking area. The board approved the bid from Knuth Excavating for $11,865 to do the work and will be reimbursed by the donor.