SOLDIERS GROVE - The seventh item on agenda for last week’s Soldiers Grove Village Board meeting was just one word – ‘Chickens.’
The sometimes controversial and contentious issue of owning and raising chickens at residences in the village had seemingly been solved last summer. Then, the board adopted an ordinance spelling out the rules for keeping the birds legally in the village.
So, why was it back in front of the village board last Thursday?
“I thought we did it and everybody was happy,” one village trustee was heard to say as the matter was introduced. Well, maybe not exactly.
Former Soldiers Grove Village President Jerry Moran refuses to buy a permit as required by the ordinance, it was reported.
Moran was reported to have had a lengthy personal meeting with the current Soldiers Grove Village Board President Paul Nicholson. Apparently, lots of things were said in the meeting between the two men, but the upshot was that Moran feels he does not need a permit. Moran’s village property on Pine Street, where the chickens are housed is zoned residential and agricultural. The former village president believes the fact the property carries agricultural zoning, as well as residential zoning means a permit is not needed.
One village trustee indicated the chickens were being raised on the portion of the property zoned residential.
The village ordinance requires residents to obtain a permit to raise chickens in the village. The other major requirement of the ordinance is that no more than four chickens can be kept by the permit holder.
The first annual permit costs $50; and then it’s $10 annually every year it is renewed.
There are three residents known to be raising chickens in the village. One person has the permit, one says they’re not getting a permit and the status of the other chicken owner is not known.
Village president Paul Nicholson told the board about the process underway to deal with the situation. Nicholson said the village’s contracted law enforcement officer (a county deputy) and the county animal control officer have been made aware of the situation.
The three individuals with chickens were notified of not being in compliance with the chicken ordinance by the village on August 15. They were given 10 days to reply and/or deal with correcting the situation. They did not reply to the letter.
Subsequently, law enforcement was made aware of the situation by the village; and the officer wrote a letter to the three residents with chickens and they had until this past weekend to reply. They did not reply, according to village clerk Kaitlynn Ott.
Village trustee Steve George said he felt it was time to just go get them (the chickens) and abolish the ordinance.
Ott informed the board that one person had nine chickens-that’s five over the limit of the ordinance.
Someone pointed out that even the person with the permit was keeping more than four chickens.
In refence to the actions underway, Nicholson told the board there was no need to pass a motion, because the village was just following what was in the ordinance.
The village president said those involved would be fined if the situation was not corrected by the weekend.
One chicken owner had nine birds and another has eight, it was noted.
“Now, I’m regretting passing the ordinance,” trustee Vickie Campbell said.
On Monday, Sept. 12 in answer to a question from the Independent-Scout, village clerk Kaitlynn Ott reported that none of the three people involved had responded to the last letters sent out by the weekend deadline.
The clerk indicated the village’s contracted law enforcement officer would be instructed to issue fines to those involved, which meant specifically the two residents raising chickens without a village-issued permit. The third resident raising chickens with a village-issued permit might be in compliance after a visit from the animal control officer if they reduce the number of chickens being raised to four.
Following public input that began the meeting, the next item on the board meeting was a platted alleyway that Noel Miller would like to use for parking for his Tobacco Warehouse Inn in the village.
The alleyway property is owned by the village, but is not currently in use as an alleyway. To complicate matters, a Richland-Grant Telephone Cooperative building is located on part of the platted alleyway.
Soldiers Grove Village Clerk Kaitlynn Ott told the board that county officials had advised the village to not give away the alleyway. The clerk noted that all other platted alleyways, except one, had been abandoned by the village to adjoining property owners.
After some discussion, the board agreed the village should contact their attorney and ask how to deal with the RGTC building. After that was solved, the village could deal with deeding the remainder of the alleyway to Noel Miller for use as parking lot for the inn.
In other business, the Soldiers Grove Village Board:
• scheduled a village cookout for Wednesday, Oct. 5 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the village park with more details to be announced
• learned the Anderson property sewer connection on 3rdStreet by the village had been completed
• learned during the CDC report that the village sign was working and that the lighting of the sign would be converted to LED lighting and approved payment for the work
ª learned that the fire department had two new members and one needed to take appropriate classes
• learned the fire department had the ladders and engines retested and that each would need some upgrades
• learned the fire department had walled over the old solar panel resulting in a cooler building in the summer and quite possibly a warmer building in the winter• in the public works report it was stated that August had been a busy month for the department and that a mower had been fixed in house for $5,000 and that another mower that broke down would soon be fixed.