Edgerton rekindles chicken discussion
EDGERTON Edgerton's backyard chicken dialogue is like a grassfire in a drought. Just when you think it has fizzled out, it rekindles itself.
Monday, the city's public works committee revived the issue forwarding a motion to the city council asking it to support city staff drawing an ordinance to allow backyard chickens in residential areas.
The decision came after Alderman Mark Wellnitz, who in the past has been a supporter of backyard chickens, asked city staff to place the issue on the agenda.
Residents earlier seemed to want to petition for such an ordinance, Wellnitz said, but nobody tried yet. He figured he'd do the honors.
"I just to wanted the city to either proceed with it or end it," he said. "That's what I was after."
It's the first time the issue has come up since spring, when the council shored up a patchwork of mismatched livestock ordinances in its code, passing a set of new rules that relegated chickens to agriculture-zoned areas—most of which are on the outskirts of the city.
The move Monday puts a decision in the hands of the council whether to have the city draw up an ordinance specifically on backyard chickens in residential areas.
It is the first step in a long process that likely will involve the city crafting standards, guidelines and limitations for backyard chickens, such as number of birds and what kind structures could be built to house them, officials have said.
City Administrator Ramona Flanigan said she would put the question on the council's Aug. 6 agenda.
Other area communities have eyed backyard chicken ordinances recently. The city of Milton is considering a conditional-use permit process for backyard chickens that involves a separate public hearing for every applicant.
It remains to be seen if a plan for backyard chickens will get wings in Edgerton. All three committee members—Ron Webb, Dave Thomas, and Chris Wellnitz—voted to push the issue forward. All three are on the city council and could vote on the issue when it comes up next month.
However, Webb said even though he gave the issue the nod Monday, he likely wouldn't later. He didn't support backyard chickens when the issue came up in 2010, and he said he doesn't now.
Webb said he voted to put the issue in the council's lap because nearby communities are considering chicken ordinances of their own.
"You've got a mixed bag. Some seem to want it, some don't," he said.
Webb said he thinks it's time that Edgerton's council picked a stance on the issue.
"What's the point of keeping it in committee? You never know then," he said.
Webb said he's leery about chickens in part because people who haven't kept chickens before tend to not realize how much work even a few can be.