Urban Chicken Talk Barely Takes Flight
The Port Washington Common Council will continue a discussion about urban chicken keeping inside city limits at its next meeting after the issue was tabled — though not all aldermen were in favor of the move.
The Port Washington Common Council voted to table a discussion about an ordinance that would allow the raising of chickens within city limits during its meeting on Tuesday night.
The suggestion to hold the discussion until the council's next meeting came from Ald. Paul Neumeyer, who said a resident in his district had planned to give a presentation about the issue — but was unable to attend because of a medical emergency.
Aldermen were split on the issue, voting three in favor and three against tabling — forcing Mayor Tom Mlada to issue the final vote; he chose to allow the discussion to be tabled. Ald. Jim Vollmar was absent from the meeting, causing the even number of council members; Aldermen Joe Dean, Douglas Biggs and Dave Larson voted against tabling; Aldermen Neumeyer, Michael Ehrlich and Dan Becker were in favor.
The council first discussed researching urban chicken keeping in early February — and though the idea was met with much opposition from aldermen, the body instructed City Administrator Mark Grams to at least research the topic in surrounding areas.
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"Although I have lots of concerns about having chickens in the city, I also had lots of concerns about bees," Ehrlich said during the early February meeting, referring to a debate just more than a year ago about urban beekeeping in Port Washington that — despite extreme initial opposition — ultimately resulted in an ordinance allowing honey bees inside city limits.
Grams had included three examples of Wisconsin municipal ordinances where chickens are allowed to be raised, including: Wauwatosa, which was approved about a month ago; Whitewater; and Lake Mills.
"Most of the communities that have it tend to be out it in the rural areas of the state," he said. In his notes to the aldermen, he also said most ordinances seem to allow four to six chickens and never any roosters, that setback requirements are offer included and that many ordinances require approval from neighbors.
Some urban places in Wisconsin, such as Madison and Green Bay — already have ordinances allowing the birds. In these communities, four hens are allowed per household and no roosters.
The council will meet next at 7:30 p.m. March 19 at City Hall.