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Kenosha Council members considering allowing backyard chickens, ducks

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Members of a Kenosha City Council committee are considering an ordinance that would allow city residents to own and house a small number of chickens and ducks in their backyards.

Ald. Brandi Ferree is sponsoring an effort to repeal and recreate a city ordinance so licensed residents can keep chickens or ducks for eggs or as pets.

The animals would have to be kept in a covered enclosure or a fenced enclosure at all times.

The matter came before the city’s Public Safety and Welfare Committee Monday night. The committee voted 3 to 2 to defer the matter for two weeks so Ferree can clarify her proposal and answer questions from some concerned members of the committee.

“This is not killed, this is just being held up a little bit,” said Ald. Jan Michalski.

According to the current proposal, no one would be allowed to keep, feed or harbor any chickens or ducks without first obtaining a license to do so from the City Council.

Any person who keeps chickens or ducks in the city would also have to obtain an annual license prior to Jan. 1 of each year, or within 30 days of acquiring the chickens or ducks. The license year would run from Jan. 1 and end on the following Dec. 31. The license fee would be $30.

Prior to review by the full City Council, the license application would be referred to the Public Safety and Welfare Committee for a hearing. Before a license would be issued for the keeping of such fowl the applicant’s neighbors would also be notified of the request so they can express any concerns.

According to the ordinance, only single-family dwellings would be allowed to have up to four hens or ducks total. No animal enclosure would be allowed within 25 feet of any residential structure.

According to the proposal, a licensee would also be required to keep his or her premises sanitary to prevent “obnoxious odors from escaping to any private or public property and such as to not jeopardize the public health, safety and welfare.”

The chickens and ducks would have to be provided with a covered enclosure having a floor space of at least 16 square-feet per chicken or duck.

Licensees would also not be allowed to keep roosters or slaughter any hens or ducks.

The City Council would have the right to suspend or revoke a license if the ordinance’s provisions are violated. Violators would also be fined $300.

Ald. Bill Siel said he supports the ordinance change.

“As a kid I used to babysit chickens for my neighbors. They are likable creatures, I collected the eggs. It was a cool experience,” Siel said. “As an adult, they are a lot of work; it’s like gardening, it’s like a lot of avocations. The small quantity of people that are likely to do this are really signing up for a job. This ordinance is designed to keep it from being a nuisance to anybody. I simply am in favor of them getting the ability to have a couple chickens, have some eggs, and enjoy the experience.”

Ald. Ruth Dyson said she has some questions regarding the proposal.

“I know people love chickens, people would like to have them for pets. However, once they are no longer laying eggs what are young going to do with the chicken?” Dyson asked.

She continued: “How are we going to regulate the people that have the license for the chickens? Are we going to go to their houses and inspect every year to make sure that the chickens are licensed? Are we going to go there and make sure that the pens or the coups that they keep them in are regulated or put in as they are supposed to be?”

Backyard chickens are currently not allowed in the city. Backyard chickens are allowed in the Village of Somers and Town of Paris.

Well, would you look at this cute animal couple! Buzz60’s Mercer Morrison has the story.

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