Walworth, Rock county communities debating backyard chickens
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DELAVAN Mark Abel of Delavan wants to be able to own chickens again -- this time legally. About two years ago, Abel’s wife bought two chickens at the Walworth County Fairgrounds and brought them home.
(Read all of this week's stories from Walworth County Sunday HERE. )
“I didn’t know it was against the municipal code. I built a chicken coop and a chicken run. The neighbors didn’t complain,” Abel said. “One day, the building inspector came by and said it was against the law to own them in Delavan. We had to get rid of them, because I didn’t know they were against the law.”
Recently, Abel presented a proposal to the city council to develop an ordinance allowing residents to raise chickens in residential areas in Delavan.
It’s a trend gaining popularity around the country where communities are considering ordinance changes that would allow residents to raise chickens within city limits.
Supporters say they raise them for fresh eggs and food and as pets. Opponents worry about noise, sanitation and unintended consequences.
“Ironically, the week we had to get rid of them, there was a law passed in Milwaukee to allow for backyard chickens,” Abel said. “That’s why I proposed for them to be legal in Delavan. I figured if it could be allowed in places like Milwaukee and Chicago, it should be allowed in Delavan, as well.”
City Administrator Denise Pieroni said members of the city council’s general operations committee are discussing the issue.
“It’s a three-person committee. Two of the members are mostly in support of it. I think the other member wants to see a draft ordinance before he supports it,” Pieroni said. “I think they plan to present a draft ordinance in July. I think they want to discuss the draft ordinance before moving it forward to the entire city council.”
Pieroni said city officials have met with other communities that have adopted a backyard chicken ordinance to determine what regulations they have been put in place.
“We’ve done a lot of research to see what other communities have done,” Pieroni said. “We want to limit it to egg production. We do not want to allow slaughtering. We want to draft legislation that addresses those concerns. We also are looking at doing it on a permit basis. If we are dealing with the residential areas, we want to be able to address it if someone is not taking care of their chickens.”
Abel said city officials seem to be in support of the proposal.
The consensus is they don’t seem to be against it,” Abel said. “It’s something they are considering. They just want to find a way to regulate it if someone is in violation.”
For the complete story, see the June 17 print or e-edition of Walworth County Sunday.