Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Chicken Coops For Residents Approved By Milwaukee Common Council

Photo: Hen houses dot com

Four chickens allowed for each single family residence.

By H. Nelson Goodson
May 25, 2011

Milwaukee - On Tuesday, the Milwaukee Common Council by a vote of 8 to 5 passed a strict chicken ordinance allowing all city residents to set-up chicken coops on a trial basis for the purpose of laying eggs. The ordinance allows for residents to apply for a $35 permit to keep up to four chickens within city limits. The ordinance was sponsored by Alderman Nik Kovac and is good for one year. The Common Council will revisit the bill in six months when the Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS) submits a preliminary update report on the outcome of the ordinance. If the Council doesn't take any action after six months the measure dies automatically when it expires.
Residents can apply for permits at City Hall in the next 45 days to allow the DNS to print information about the ordinance and the maintance of sanitary chicken coops. Residents applying for permits must first get consent from the property owners and surrounding neighbors. The ordinance strictly requires that, "Prior to the issuance of a permit, the applicant shall obtain the written consent of the owner of the property where the chickens shall be kept and owners of all directly or diagonally abutting properties, including those across an alley... No person shall keep any rooster. No person shall slaughter any chickens."
The coop can't be within 25 yards of another home and have at least 16 square feet including yard space per chicken. Chickens can't be killed for consumption.
No roosters will be allowed to be kept by residents. Hens can lay at least one egg per day without a rooster and don't need a rooster to lay eggs. Roosters are only needed to fertilize eggs to raise chicks.
Aldermen who voted to approved the measure included Kovak, Bob Bauman, Jim Bohl, Milele Coggs, Ashanti Hamilton, Michael Murphy, Jim Witkowiak and T. Anthony Zielinski. Those opposed to the measure were Common Council President Willie Hines Jr. and Aldermen Joe Dudzik Jr., Willie Wade, Bob Donovan and Terry Witkowski. Absent from the meeting were Aldermen Joe Davis Sr. and Robert Puente.
Donovan, the Chair of the Public Safety Committee opposed the measure and said the chickens are noisy.
The measure goes before Mayor Tom Barrett. Barrett hasn't decided to sign the measure or to veto it. Aldermen need 10 votes to override a Mayor's veto.
Both the DNS and the Milwaukee Health Department supported the chicken coop ordinance and contributed to its writing. The DNS reported that it gets about 10 complaints a year about chickens being kept by Milwaukee residents.
Some Milwaukee aldermen and residents didn't take long to criticize the Common Council for passing such an ordinance. Will the City of Milwaukee become known as the friendly Chicken Coop Town or Egg Laying City? Residents just have to wait and see how it turns out.

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