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Fox Point decides not to fowl

Officials vote against allowing chickens in village

Feb. 15, 2012

Fox Point - After debating the issue for four months, the Fox Point Village Board on Tuesday scratched a proposal that, if enacted, would have allowed residents to keep chickens in narrowly defined instances.

The vote to move forward with an ordinance was defeated on a 4-2 vote. Village President Mike West and Trustee Bill Warner voted in favor of the ordinance. Trustees Beverly Bell, F. R. Dengel III, Douglas Frazer and Christine Symchych voted against it. Trustee Eric Fonstad was not present at the meeting.

In October, residents Jeff and Kara Ziebelman came before the Village Board and requested officials consider allowing chickens, citing similar com munities - including the city of Milwaukee - that have adopted an ordinance.

In ensuing months, the board has been working with legal counsel to adopt a proposed ordinance and amend the village's zoning code. A number of issues were bandied about, including the height of fencing structures, whether the ordinance would sunset during a prescribed amount of time and where the chicken coops would be allowed.

But when it came time to actually put the ordinance to a vote, the majority of the elected officials were not on board with the idea.

"I have a lot of reservations about this, and I am going to oppose it," Frazer said. "As far as I can tell, we have one family that's interested in this. I have no sense there is any support from other people in the community."

Frazer also was critical of the staff and attorney time devoted to the issue.

"I question the priorities of this board," he said, noting how the board readily denied a request to amend the zoning code by five Catholic nuns in June to occupy a home in the village. "We turned these upstanding people away, yet we've been falling all over ourselves (with the chicken ordinance). It's inconsistent in policy, and it troubles me."

Symchych echoed some of Frazer's comments during the discussion and questioned the merits of having such an ordinance on the books.

"We are a suburban community; not a rural community," she said. "People can get their food from a variety of sources nearby."

With varying lot sizes throughout the village, Symchych said she was concerned the ordinance could create unintended consequences between neighbors.

West defended the course of action taken throughout the past several months.

"We are where we are because we did this in a deliberate manner," he said.

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