Village board, residents still haggling over ordinance

By Gail Peckler-Dziki

The Salem Lakes board discussed the possibility for placing the chicken ordinance on the May 20 Committee of the Whole agenda, but it wasn’t there. The village has been wrestling with the revised ordinance for several months.

At least 30 Salem Lakes families have expressed interest in keeping chickens and have formed a loose coalition to work with the village board and staff on an ordinance. A number of Salem Lakes homes already have chickens, and they may not be in compliance with the current ordinance.

That ordinance, according to Heather Deegan, is one of the most restrictive that she’s seen in Wisconsin and northern Illinois

The Deegan home sits on half an acre in a subdivision off Highway JF.

“I petitioned the village in 2016 to keep backyard chickens,” she said. “This was right after the merger with Silver Lake. I was told to wait until the ordinances were rewritten.”

And Salem residents that wish to keep backyard chickens are still waiting, three years later.

A family with children in 4-H can keep one chicken per child. That can create issues because of predators such as raccoons, foxes and coyotes. Those chickens can disappear, leaving these children chickenless.

The current ordinance allows for four chickens only on lots two acres or larger. And Salem Lakes wants folks with chickens to pay an annual $50 permit fee and undergo yearly inspections of the chickens and their coops.

Several Salem Lakes residents have worked with village board members on a committee to help solve this issue. They have taken the draft ordinance that the board has been looking at, cleaned it up, reorganized it with suggested changes and are still waiting for a response from the board.

“We are not avoiding the subject,” Salem Lakes Village President Diann Tesar said. “Our ordinance officer and Mike (Murdock) are compiling the residents’ comments and ideas with theirs and the board. We should be ready to go for the June agenda.”

Other municipalities, such as the Village of Bristol, have much more lenient ordinances. Bristol requires a permit and consent from adult residents of the home and the consent of other families that reside on the same parcel.

According to village officials, 12 Bristol families have reported that they have chickens. And clerk/treasurer Amy Klemko said they have had no complaints about chickens.

According to the Bristol ordinance, chickens are permitted on R-1, R-2, R-3, R-4, R-5, R-6 and R-6A single- family residential lots. Those lots range in size from 5 acres to 600 square feet.

Chicken coops and chicken runs are required to have 6 square feet per chicken. Thus, the number of chickens allowed would be limited by the space available to keep them.

There is no annual fee or inspection.

“We have a form for people to fill out, and a diagram of the coop and run and where it will sit on the property is required,” Klemko said. “Our administrator can issue the permit.”

Inspections would occur if there were complaints.


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