Janesville66.6°

Hope remains for Edgerton’s chicken fans

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
April 27, 2010
— Residents waiting to learn if city officials will allow them to keep chickens at their homes got an answer Monday.

Maybe.


The city’s public works committee pushed forward a recommendation that the city council support ownership of chickens in residential areas within the city.


The move came after a few residents spoke to the committee Monday, asking officials to consider changing city ordinances to allow people to keep a small number of hens at their homes.


The full city council could decide as soon as Monday, May 3, whether or not to draw up ordinance alterations that could allow the change.


Now, one city ordinance allows residents to apply for a license to have chickens at home. But two separate city ordinances governing animal and heath regulations restrict chickens to agriculturally zoned areas in the city.


Resident Holly Gould, 402 Chamberlain St., told the committee a recently failed campaign for residential chicken ownership in Janesville shouldn’t reflect on Edgerton residents’ requests.


“Janesville’s a little different than Edgerton,” she said. “(We’re) a little more rural.”


Another resident, Beth Goetsch, 407 Albion St., had filed for changes to ordinances on local chicken ownership in March.


“We just want two or three hens to know where our eggs are coming from,” she told the committee.


Goetsch, who claims to have grown up on a farm that had chickens, said she’s researched varieties of chickens that would be best suited for urban areas.


“I’m not completely naïve when it comes to what kind of care they need,” she said.


Another resident, James Ylvisaker, 423 E. Fulton St., told officials Monday he’s kept anywhere from four to nine chickens on his property for several years.


“Nobody knows I’ve had them I guess,” he said. “Nobody’s said anything.”


Ylvisaker said he’s also had turkeys and guinea fowl. He said he keeps the birds fenced in.


Alderman and public works committee member Matt McIntyre asked Ylvisaker if chicken droppings pile up in his yard.


“There’s less (droppings) than from a dog,” Ylvisaker said.


Ylvisaker told the Gazette he doesn’t have any chickens on his property right now. He said if the council decides not to allow chickens in residential Edgerton, he doesn’t know whether he’ll continue to raise birds on his property.


“Depends on how much the fine is,” he said.


If the council decided to allow chickens in residential areas, officials would have to craft changes to the two ordinances that restrict chicken ownership. Those changes would be subject to a public hearing and review and recommendations by the city plan commission before possible approval by the council.


That could be a tangled process, and could take several months, officials said Monday.


“We’re months away from people going out and buying Rhode Island Reds or chicken fence,” alderman and public works committee member Ken Westby told the Gazette on Monday.



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