Waupaca to allow chickens
Ordinance prohibits roosters, more than five hens
By Angie Landsverk
Residents of single-family and two-family districts in Waupaca may now have up to five chickens.
The Waupaca Common Council approved the ordinance by a vote of 9-1 during its March 1 meeting.
Chuck Whitman voted against it.
During last month’s public hearing on the topic, he called the fees and need to get approval from adjacent property owners restrictive and excessive.
The initial fee is $50 per household and $20 annually after that.
Permits and information about the requirements are available at city hall.
Applicants must get written consent from the owner of the property where the chickens will be kept, as well as from the occupants or owners directly abutting the property.
There are a number of requirements related to the size and placement of chicken coops.
The ordinance does not allow residents to have roosters.
Brennan Kane, the city’s development director, said those who have roosters will receive letters saying the roosters need to be removed from their property. Those who do not comply will be cited.
One resident, who has 15 hens, asked the council if it would consider grandfathering in those who have more than five chickens.
Bonni Miller told the council she lives on a deep lot and said it is hard to get rid of chickens when they are old, unless one sends them to the chopping block.
“I am very attached to them,” she said.
Kane said his staff did extensive research on urban chicken ordinances.
None of them allowed for more than five chickens, he said.
Kane stood by his recommendation of a maximum of five chickens on a property and said by the end of the year, all properties on which chickens are allowed have to be at five chickens or less.
According to City Attorney John Hart, for something to be grandfathered in would presume it was legal when the ordinance was approved.
He noted that virtually all the chickens already in the city were illegal.
Hart also told Miller when she started raising chickens on her property, she should have known it was illegal, because she lives in a residential neighborhood.
He said that did not give her an excuse to continue something which would continue to be illegal.
Miller said she attended past meetings when a discussion took place and believed they were allowed.
That was in 2009, when Police Chief Tim Goke noted the city has an ordinance regulating poultry in agriculturally zoned areas but did not have an ordinance prohibiting them in residential areas.
The decision was made to let the community develop it on its own and if there were complaints, to use ordinances already in place related to animals running at large or causing noise and odor.
An ordinance was drafted after a discussion last summer about complaints related to chickens.
Mayor Brian Smith told Miller the city is sympathetic to her situation.
Miller asked city officials what they thought about offering a class for those interested in raising chickens in the city.
In other communities, people read the urban chicken ordinance but yet did not understand what it truly involved, she explained.
Miller said people have left chickens in her yard.
“I think that’s a great idea,” the mayor said regarding Miller’s idea of a class. “We’ll take you up on it.”