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How many chickens equal a cow? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Mark Jaeger   
Wednesday, 17 August 2016 20:58

That was one of the questions officials grappled with as they worked to revise proposed rules for animals in town residential areas

Members of the Town of Saukville Plan Commission found themselves in a familiar position last week, poised to recommend a revamped animal ordinance for the town’s residential districts.

The commission was in a similar position last month, but had the ordinance returned to them after a number of concerns were raised at the July 19 Town Board meeting.

Supr. Mike Denzien wrote the simplified ordinance because officials felt the old process that required conditional-use permits for horses and other animals was too restrictive.

Denzien’s proposal drew few criticisms at a public hearing, but encountered resistance from the public at the board meeting.

A critique from the Wisconsin Towns Association also noted that plans to have the Plan Commission act in a quasi-judicial manner on animal disputes was over-reaching its authority.

In response to those comments, Denzien reworked the enforcement section of the ordinance, noting the commission must ask the town clerk to issue citations when violations are found.

Citations can be challenged in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

A matter that encountered a little more debate, however, was the animal unit chart in the ordinance.

Denzien fashioned the chart based on his assessment of an animal’s impact on the land, using a cow as the measuring unit. The chart determines how many animals will be allowed on a given size of non-agricultural land.

One animal unit is allowed on parcels under three acres, with three units allowed of five-acre parcels.

The system is the same used by the state, but the numbers Denzien used came under attack from residents who felt the chart developed by the Department of Natural Resources should be followed instead.

The revised ordinance reflects that advice, with a few modifications.

Several town residents who raise chickens were most critical of the draft ordinance when it was presented to the Town Board, contending it was unduly restrictive.

The reworked version, Denzien said, seems to address that concern.

The owner of a five-acre parcel, he said, could raise as many as 99 chickens. That number would be reduced based on the other animals kept on the property.

 As many as three horses or 30 goats would be allowed on a five-acre parcel.

“As far as animals allowed, this ordinance is far more liberal than our current ordinance,” Denzien said.

That very point bothered commission member Tom Ravn.

“I think the numbers are too liberal. If someone pushes this issue, you are going to have a problem with complaints. I liked the ordinance the way it was,” Ravn said.

Conditional-use permits are still required for commercial ventures such as kennels and stables.

Town Chairman Don Hamm said he liked the revised ordinance.

“We want to make this process easier. We are saying, ‘You are entitled to this number of animals. Take care of them,’” Hamm said.

The commission then recommended the revised animal ordinance be adopted by the Town Board pending a review by the Wisconsin Towns Association.

Ravn abstained when the vote was taken.

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