Backyard chickens lay an egg in Milton
MILTON There will be no chickens in Milton backyards.
That's the takeaway from a Milton City Council meeting Wednesday night, where a proposal to allow chickens in residential areas was struck down.
David Adams, Brett Frazier, Maxine Striegl and Don Vruwink voted in favor of the motion to deny. Anissa Welch was the lone vote against the motion.
At the council's July 27 meeting, a proposal to allow backyard chickens was approved by a 4-3 vote, with Mayor Tom Chesmore casting the tie-breaking ballot. City Attorney Mark Schroeder drafted an ordinance regulating the keeping of chickens on residential property.
The ordinance would have prohibited any resident from having a male chicken or more than six female chickens, keeping chickens outside of a coop or enclosure, and building coops within 15 feet of any property line. The ordinance would also have required written consent from all of the petitioner's neighbors.
In response to what he characterized as "very legitimate concerns" voiced by city council members, City Administrator Jerry Schuetz issued a recommendation August 8 against changing existing code on backyard chickens. Schuetz's concerns focused on four issues:
Property values: "While no definitive research exists, it would appear unlikely that chicken coops in residential neighborhoods would increase property values … in the city," he said.
Cost: "Code enforcement, responding to and investigating complaints is a very unknown, yet anticipated, expense potentially associated with this change," Schuetz said. "Permitting them (chickens) would lead to a cost that … is not budgeted for."
Staffing levels/prioritization: "The process does create more work and thus more cost to the taxpayer than the current policy does," he said.
Cost/benefit and value: "While personal property rights are very important, I do not know that a policy change that permits raising chickens in residential neighborhoods maintains or creates value to those living in our city," Schuetz said.
At Wednesday night's meeting, Schuetz said the public works committee joined him in his opposition to allowing chickens in residential backyards.
Schuetz said his discussions with residents and neighbors regarding the proposal boiled down to a general sentiment: "I don't want that (backyard chickens) next to me."
Anticipating the council's rejection of the plan, Chesmore voiced his displeasure before ballots were cast on the proposal.
"I know it doesn't have a snowball's chance of passing," he said. "I've watched this in the papers. I think it (the opposition) was maybe one or two (petitioners), and I think it was blown way out of proportion.
"Maybe to me, it's the fact that I did a lot of playing on the farm as a kid, and I understand what goes on. I also understand how harmless chickens are."