HORICON — Easter is fast approaching and as people gather around the kitchen table to dip hard boiled eggs into coffee cups of colored vinegar, the Horicon City Council gathered at city hall to discuss the possibility of allowing chickens within city limits.
“While I realize this isn’t the most important issue we need to discuss as a city, it is listening to the community and with every desire to retain the people and businesses we have in this community I think it’s the least we could do,” said council member Matt Wieneke. “After all, if we want to be titled bird city, U.S.A., I don’t think it’s a wise deal to be prejudiced to chickens.”
Communities such as Baraboo, Columbus, Green Bay, Madison, Jefferson, Kiel, La Crosse, Lake Mills, Milwaukee, Prescott, Sheboygan, Sheboygan Falls and Whitewater all allow chickens.
Wieneke suggested that a potential ordinance would limit the number of chickens, require proper housing for them, require a permit and prevent the chickens from being a nuisance to neighbors.
“Just as any pet owner, for a dog would build a kennel or structure, I think there are some guidelines that should be followed to make sure we don’t have an unsightly operation,” he said.
The potential ordinance would also require chicken owners to keep only hens, no roosters and would not allow for slaughtering within the city limits.
Mayor Steve Neitzel’s biggest concern with allowing chickens is how they will be housed.
“Part of my concern really is, really regulating what the coop is; size, type, materials, that its not just make out of some scrap lumber and some 2x4s in the backyard and that it’s another unsightly thing on properties in town,” he said.
He also hopes that the city can properly regulate licenses to have chickens, looking at it more like a liquor license.
“If it were to go forward, that it would be done more as a test, that you would issue maybe five to 10 licenses max, a little bit like liquor licenses in town,” Neitzel said. “…that they can be revoked if there are issues or complaints.”
Although Neitzel isn’t personally keen on raising chickens, he is open to creating an ordinance if there is community interest.
“I truly believe that it belongs on the farm,” he said. “That’s why farm animals, chickens, goats, sheep and anything else aren’t allowed in the city. I’m willing to listen. If it’s really the issue that you say it is, I’d really like to hear some truly interested citizens that would like to have this.”