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Trustees ask: How tall should chicken coops be?

Jan. 11, 2012

Fox Point - Village officials continue to strut toward a decision on a proposed ordinance that could allow residents to keep chickens in specific circumstances. But a number of amendments to village code would be necessary for feathered fowl to take up residence in the community.

Since October, the Village Board has been reviewing the issue, which came to light after a resident suggested it be looked into.

More recently, a few southeastern Wisconsin municipalities - including the city of Milwaukee - have permitted chickens on a trial basis. If enacted in Fox Point, a number of stipulations would likely be put in place, including a requirement to obtain permission from surrounding neighbors. Roosters, noisier than their female counterparts, would not be permitted, nor would the slaughtering of chickens.

At Tuesday's Village Board meeting, elected officials continued to review one of the sticking points throughout the discussion: restrictions for so-called accessory structures that would be used to house chickens. Village Attorney Eric Larson has been working with village staff to create a chicken ordinance that would be independent of the fence ordinance. With the separation, applicants would not be required to seek a building permit - a provision necessary for fencing - but would need to go before the Plan Commission for approval.

Trustee Christine Symchych said she would like specific guidelines put in place for the size of chicken enclosures.

"What I'm concerned about is something that's going to be too tall," Symchych said. "There's nothing in (the draft ordinance) that addresses height. We regulate the height of a fence in our ordinances."

Village President Mike West suggested language be added that a structure not exceed 8 feet from the ground.

Larson has been making several amendments to a draft chicken ordinance. In the most recent iteration, he added language that would require residents remove structures within a specified period of time once chickens are removed from the property.

While a building permit would not be necessary for housing chickens, residents would likely have to obtain a special permit to keep chickens in a yard. Another provision still open to discussion is the specific duration of the permit.

Although the board took no formal action on the chicken proposal, officials did vote to forward the issue to the Plan Commission - a necessary step based on current policies in the village code.

NEXT STEP

WHAT: public hearing ; continued discussion, possible action on proposed chicken ordinance

WHEN: 7 p.m. Feb. 14

WHERE: Fox Point Village Hall, 7200 N. Santa Monica Blvd.

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