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Yes, Cindy Pradarelli violated a village ordinance by setting up her chicken coop in her Caledonia backyard.

We think it’s the ordinance that could use some modification.

When Pradarelli and her husband moved to Caledonia last summer from Antigo, one of the first things she asked village officials about was raising chickens.

Frustrated to learn that village ordinances did not allow her to keep the birds at her home in the 1500 block of Johnson Avenue, Pradarelli, a retired UPS Inc. worker who had raised red-golden pheasants up north, began asking around.

“I started talking to other people and I found out that there are many other people who have chickens on the down-low,” she said recently. So she set up an enclosed, heated coop for her 11 hens. She said her neighbors never complained, but somebody did: Ordered to surrender her hens or have them slaughtered, Pradarelli has moved her hens to a more rural location within the village as she petitions the Village Board to change the ordinance.

Sefarina Benavides, 12, spoke at Monday’s Village Board meeting about how she was forced to give up the three pet chickens she had in Milwaukee when she moved to her home in the 200 block of 4 Mile Road.

“I feel like if you can own any other type of pet you (should be able) to own chickens,” Sefarina said.

We agree … within reasonable limits.

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Pradarelli has been circulating petitions seeking an ordinance change that would allow the birds to be kept on all owner-occupied properties in the village as long as the animals and their enclosure are a minimum of 25 feet from the nearest occupied dwelling on an adjacent lot. On Monday, she said she had collected more than 440 signatures in favor of the change.

Under her proposal, no roosters would be allowed in the village, which is the case with many urban chicken laws, and the birds would have to stay in a fenced area or covered enclosure at all times. Those who want to keep the birds also would have to obtain a license.

Although Racine and Milwaukee have similarly accommodating ordinances, the Village of Mount Pleasant has lot size restrictions for the keeping of the birds, as does the Village of Sturtevant. In Racine, the most hens a homeowner can keep is four. But that’s Racine, which has far more urban neighborhoods than Caledonia.

We recognize that Caledonia is not all farmland, nor is it all large suburban lots. We also recognize that the village has within it several houses and lots which represent a sizable investment on the parts of the respective landowners.

But we also feel that if urban Racine and suburban-rural Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant can find a way to strike a balance between the interests of those who wish to keep backyard chickens and those who live next door to the chicken keepers, so too can Caledonia allow its homeowners a bit more latitude in keeping hens.

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