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Residents want to raise chickens in village
Soldiers Grove
Senator Zitzner with chicken
PEYTON ZITZNER, eight, of Soldiers Grove is seen holding a chicken he hopes to be able to keep in the village. Zitzner and his mother, Sammy Goodwin, are advocating for the village board to adopt an ordinance regulating the keeping of backyard chickens in the village. The two are currently circulating a petition as a way for village residents to demonstrate support for the idea.

SOLDIERS GROVE - The Soldiers Grove Village Board will meet on Thursday, June 10, at 6:30 p.m. Prior to the meeting, starting at 6 p.m., a public hearing will take place about whether or not to allow chickens in the village, and what rules would govern the keeping of chickens.

SG chicken hearing notice

As summarized by Soldiers Grove Village President Paul Nicholson at the last meeting, the first step is for the board to decide if they want to pursue writing an ordinance to allow backyard chickens in the village. 

The board will also review other ordinances, and be prepared to discuss what rules seem most important to them. If the decision is to ask the village’s attorney to draft an ordinance, then it is likely that there would be an opportunity for public input prior to the board voting on whether to adopt the ordinance. 

At the May 6 meeting where the issue was firsr discussed, Nicholson, and trustees Campbell and Chapman, seemed cautiously supportive of allowing the keeping of chickens in the village, with certain rules and permitting in place. 

Trustee Roy Davidson spoke against allowing chickens in the village. 

Campbell also expressed strong support for obtaining public input on the issue prior to enacting an ordinance.

“Readstown allows chickens in the village, and told me that they have not had any problems with it,” Nicholson reported at the May 6 meeting.

Petition circulating

Village residents Sammy Goodwin and her son Peyton Zitzner were present at the May 6 meeting to speak in favor of the village allowing chickens, as were her next door neighbors. Goodwin is currently circulating a petition for supporters to sign to encourage the board to adopt an ordinance allowing residents to keep chickens in the village.

The petition reads:

“We recently purchased backyard chickens under the assumption that the Village of Soldiers Grove, like many surrounding areas, allowed for backyard penned chickens. We would use our chickens for harvesting eggs and educational opportunities. Our chickens eat our scraps, and eat bugs and ticks. Many other large and small municipalities such as Readstown, Viola, LaFarge, Viroqua, Madison and Milwaukee allow for backyard chickens. We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to support the chicken ordinance.”

Goodwin says that citizens that wish to sign the petition can find a copy at the Soldiers Grove Public Library. She says that she and her son Peyton also plan to take the petition door-to-door in the village to discuss the issue with residents and give them opportunity to sign the petition if they feel so moved.

Clerk Kaitlynn Gander was charged by the board with  investigating chicken ordinances in other area villages, and also in larger communities like Madison or LaCrosse. The Independent-Scout decided to look into the issue as well.

Other villages

According to Village Clerk/Treasurer Kimberly Walker, the Village of LaFargehas an ordinance that only allows two chickens in the village.

“We have granted variances [to allow more than two chickens] if the person asks permission from the village board,” Walker explained. “[A variance to allow more than two chickens would be granted] after getting permission from the neighbors and  an agreement to keep them in a pen.”

Walker says that it is essential that the village receive no complaints. 

“If we receive complaints, then the chickens need to go,” Walker explained.

Coon ValleyClerk/Treasurer Renita Williams reports that the village will allow two chickens but no roosters. There are restrictions on keeping the chickens with shelter, fenced into an area, and with food and water.

 “There is no permit required - people usually phone to ask us,” Williams explained. “We haven’t had any problems so far.”

According to DeSotoClerk/Treasurer Carrie Brudos, that village does not allow chickens in the village. 

Local cities

The City of LaCrosseallows the keeping of up to five chickens, and requires the owner to obtain a license annually. Keeping chickens is limited to single family dwellings, and roosters and the slaughtering of chickens in the city is not allowed. 

The chickens are required to be kept in a covered enclosure and kept in the enclosure or a fenced enclosure within the backyard of the property at all times. Further, no enclosure is allowed to be located closer than 25 feet to any residential structure on an adjacent lot.

To receive a permit, applicants are required to submit a form in writing to the City Clerk’s Office. From there it will be presented for approval at the next meeting of the Judiciary & Administration Committee. Applicants are required to receive written approval from not less than 50 percent of the owner-occupied property owners whose property is within 100 feet of the applicant’s property lines exclusive of street right-of-way prior to approval of the license by the Common Council.

Last, information about keeping chickens in the City of LaCrosse posted on the city’s website specify that anyone who owns and houses livestock in Wisconsin is legally required to register their premises with Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). This applies whether you own one or 100 birds. Registering your premise with DATCP is free, and allows you to receive alerts about disease issues that affect poultry.

The City of Prairie du Chienallows the keeping of chickens by residents in the city as well. Any person who keeps chickens on land in the city which the person owns, occupies or controls is required to obtain a permit issued by the City Clerk. The permit is valid January 1—December 31, and the fee shall be as established by resolution of the Common Council and shall be consistent with the fee established for spayed or neutered dogs or cats. 

Permit applications submitted by a person other than a record title owner of the property upon which chickens will be kept shall provide written consent of the property owner with the permit application. 

All permit applications shall be accompanied by satisfactory evidence that the applicant has registered the proposed location with the Wisconsin Department of Agricultural Trade and Consumer Protection pursuant to Wis. Stats. § 95.51 and 47 ATCP Wis. Admin. Code. 

 In the City of Prairie du Chien, up to four chickens are allowed with a permit. One permit per R-1 Single-Family Residence District and R-2 Single- and Two-Family Residence District zoned parcel only is allowed. 

No person shall keep any rooster, and no person other than a licensed meat processing facility may slaughter any chickens within the city. 

Prairie du Chien’s ordinance requires that chickens be provided with fresh water at all times and adequate amounts of feed. They must also be provided with a sanitary and adequately-sized coop, and kept in the coop or a sanitary and adequately-sized chicken run attached to it at all times. Chickens shall not be allowed to free range. 

All permanent (non-mobile) coops shall comply with all building and zoning requirements. Coops must be construed in a workmanlike manner, be moisture-resistant and either raised up off the ground or placed on a hard surface such as concrete, patio block or gravel. 

Coops with or without a chicken run must be constructed and maintained to reasonably prevent the collection of standing water, and be cleaned of hen droppings, uneaten feed, feathers and other waste daily and as is necessary to ensure that the coop and yard do not become a health, odor or other nuisance. All feed containers must be rat-proof. All chicken droppings must be disposed of in accordance with the city’s Solid Waste Disposal code. 

Coops must be large enough to provide at least four square feet per chicken. No chicken coop can be located closer than 25 feet to any principal residential structure on an adjacent lot, and no chicken coop shall be located within any setback area. Residents are prohibited from locating a chicken coop in the front or side yard of a parcel, whether outside the setback or not. 

In addition to compliance with the City of Prairie du Chien’s requirements, no one shall keep chickens that cause any other nuisance associated with unhealthy condition, create a public health threat or otherwise interfere with the normal use of property or enjoyment of life by humans or animals. 

 As far as public health requirements, chickens must be kept and handled in a sanitary manner to prevent the spread of communicable diseases among birds or to humans. Any person keeping chickens must immediately report any unusual illness or death of chickens to the health department. 

The health officer may order testing, quarantine, isolation, vaccination or humane euthanasia of ill chickens or chickens believed to be a carrier of a communicable disease. The owner of the chicken is responsible for all costs associated with procedures ordered.

A permit is subject to revocation by the Crawford County Health Officer upon failure to comply with the spelled out provisions. Such revocation is subject to appeal by the board of health. Once a permit is revoked, a permit shall not be reissued. 

Last, in Prairie du Chien, the sale of eggs and baby chicks is prohibited. No person may offer to sell eggs or chicks. 

The City of Viroquaallows residents to keep backyard chickens, but requires them to obtain an annual license from the city. A new license is required each year. Any one property in the city is limited to six chickens, and each occupier of a two-family dwelling may keep six chickens each. No person is allowed to keep a rooster.

Owners are required to provide the chickens with a covered enclosure. Chickens must be kept within the enclosure or a fenced enclosure within the backyard of the property at all times. The run, pen or coop must be enclosed and constructed of durable materials to prevent entry by predators or escape of the chickens. The enclosure must be constructed of weather-resistant materials that can be cleaned, maintained and kept of good appearance. 

The chicken run, coop or house must be set back from all adjacent residences not occupied by the applicant by not less than 25 feet, and not less than 15 feet from any lot lines. All such structures must be located in the rear yard of a residence. No facility for storing manure or feed shall be located within 100 feet of any adjacent residence not occupied by the applicant, and not less than 50 feet from any lot line.

A minimum of not less than four square feet of area per chicken is required. Further, owners are required to ensure that chickens have access to adequate feed and water at all times. Food must be stored in a container that prevents rodents or other pests from gaining access to it.

The city requires that noise from the chickens will not be perceptible at the lot lines to the extent that it results in being a public nuisance. It is against the law for chickens kept in the city to habitually by any noise disturb the peace and quiet of any person in their vicinity.

If an applicant for a license is not the owner of the property where the chickens will be kept, then they must receive written approval from the owner of the property prior to submission of the application. This only applies to new license applications.

Applicants residing in a two-family dwelling must receive written approval from the other occupant(s) of the dwelling prior to submission of the application. This provision also applies only to new applications.

In applying for a license, the applicant must submit a waste removal and disposal plan.

Applications are made to the City Clerk, and approved by a majority vote of the City Council. The annual license fee is $25.

Chicken coops, runs or pens must be kept in a sanitary condition and free from all objectionable odors. Any odor from the facility is not allowed to be perceptible at lot lines, and conditions that cause odor to be perceptible at lot lines will be considered a public nuisance.

If the City of Viroqua or its agents determine that conditions are unsanitary or if, for any reason, a nuisance exists, they have the authority to order the owner or occupant of the premises to abate the nuisance, and it will no longer be legal to keep chickens on the premises. If the nuisance is not abated within a week of notification, the city may take action to abate the nuisance. The cost of abatement will be assessed against the property as a special tax or surcharge.

City residents are allowed to file complaints against any person keeping chickens with the City Clerk or the Viroqua Police Department. Any person who violates the city’s ordinance shall be required to forfeit not less than $25 nor more than $200 for each violation, together with costs of prosecution. If the person is in default on their payment, they shall be imprisoned in the County Jail for a time not to exceed 30 days until such forfeiture costs are paid. Each day a violation occurs constitutes a separate offense. The city deems that any chicken facility maintained in violation of the city’s ordinance is deemed a public nuisance.

The City of Madisonallows up to four hens, which must be confined in a coop. Madison residents must pay $10 for an annual chicken permit issued by the city treasurer. Coops must be at least 25 feet from neighboring residences. No roosters are allowed, and no slaughtering of chickens within city limits by a backyard chicken owner is allowed.

In the City of Richland Center, keeping or feeding of poultry or livestock is declared to be a public nuisance, presenting concerns for health, cleanliness, noxious odors, noise, and safety issues in a close community living situation. No person shall keep, feed or maintain upon his or her premises or any premises under his or her control, any chickens, ducks, geese or other poultry, or any live cattle, horses, mules, donkeys, sheep, goats, or swine, or any other poultry or livestock normally raised on farms and used for food or fiber. 

Richland Center grants exceptions where the creatures are in the care, custody or control of any of a veterinarian for treatment; an agricultural or animal fair, show, or learning seminar; a show or project of a 4-H Club, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or similar club; a display for judging purposes; an itinerant or transient carnival; a circus, parade, or other show; a public or private educational institution; or a pet shop, or retail agri-business dealing in young poultry.

This, provided that the presence of the animals within the city is temporary, unless they are being kept at an educational institution; the location of the animals conforms to the provisions of the zoning ordinances of the city; all animals and animals quarters are kept in a clean and sanitary condition, and are so maintained as to eliminate objectionable odors; and all animals are maintained in quarters so constructed as to prevent their escape.

Any person violating any of the provisions of the city’s chapter shall, upon conviction thereof, forfeit not less than $25, nor more than $400 for each offense, together with a the costs of prosecution and any applicable penalty assessment, and in case such forfeiture, costs and assessments are not paid, shall be subject to imprisonment in the County Jail until such forfeiture costs and assessments shall be paid, but not to exceed Ninety (90) days. Each day that a violation of the chapter continues, shall constitute a separate offense.

The City of Boscobelalso does not allow the keeping of chickens within city limits.