Delavan City Council OKs backyard chickens
DELAVAN On Tuesday's Delavan City Council agenda: Sewer and water impact fees, sidewalk repair, Class B liquor licenses, and—wait for it—chickens.
The fees are in place, the sidewalks will be repaired and the chickens will be allowed, provided you're nice to your neighbors and don't try to sneak in a rooster.
The vote was five to one, with Alderman Bruce Dewitt dissenting.
The vote comes after several months of discussion and a considerable amount of work on the part of the council's general operations committee and the city attorney.
The end result?
"You can't just decide to throw some chickens in your backyard," Alderman Jeff Johnson told the audience. "There is a process."
The ordinance requires potential poultry producers to get the approval of 51 percent of their neighbors. It also bans roosters, which are notoriously loud.
Dewitt voted against the amendment, saying municipalities allowing backyard chickens is not something that's happening all over the place.
"We're trying to make Delavan a better place," Dewitt said. "I don't think raising chickens will raise property values."
Dewitt also expressed concerns about "unexpected costs" that might arise.
Who, for example, would be in charge of enforcing the ordinance's guidelines?
Dewitt noted that the city councils of Edgerton and Milton both recently voted against such ordinances.
Alderman Gary Stebnitz disagreed with Dewitt on several points, saying that a number of cities did now have urban chicken ordinances.
"A neighbor with a two or three dogs can sometimes be worse than one with a couple of chickens," Stebnitz said.
More that 31 Wisconsin cities have ordinances, including Green Bay, Marinette, Manitowoc, Sturgeon Bay, Sheboygan, Fort Atkinson, Stoughton, Baraboo, New Berlin, Albany, Wausau, Madison and La Crosse, according to backyardchickens.com.
Alderman Ryan Schroeder agreed that it had been a long process.
"When I first heard of the issue, I was like, 'Whaaat?'" Schroeder said.
Schroeder reminded the audience that the council has the power to both create—and revoke—ordinances.
This caused former city council member Merlyn "Red" Dahl to say, from his place in the audience, "The council giveth, the council taketh away."