Whitewater, WI passes Backyard Chicken Ordinance

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by tandemrx, Dec 20, 2012.

  1. tandemrx

    tandemrx Out Of The Brooder

    May 31, 2012
    [​IMG] Well, 5 months of hard work paid off Tuesday night when our City Council unanimously approved the backyard chicken ordinance I had been working on with them. They even waved the second reading to expedite the ordinance approval, in part because in 3 previous lengthy Plan Commission meetings there was almost no public comment against and the Plan Commission approved unanimously as well. Waving of the second reading was a huge early Xmas present for me.

    I was often thanked for presenting useful evidence in regards to all issues that came up, for helping frame out the ordinance wording by providing a model template ordinance (changed significantly, but it was a good starting point), and helping the City with all aspects of the ordinance.

    My biggest advocates other than public supporters were the Backyard Chicken Ordinance publication written by Jamie Bouvier in Environmental Law Reporter publication and the Urban Poultry publication from Wisconsin Cooperative Extension (really nicely formatted publication with useful disease information).

    Included our ordinance wording below. It is rather restrictive in requiring a site plan and limited to single family dwellings (not duplex or multi-family), but I think it is a good ordinance for our community (Large college town, where students dominate city dwellers in population, so there is some concern of students taking on chickens and not caring for them or leaving them behind would cause issues).


    12/13/12 1:30 p.m. draft
    The Common Council of the City of Whitewater, Walworth and Jefferson
    Counties, Wisconsin, does hereby ordain as follows:
    Section 1. Whitewater Municipal Code Section 9.06.015 is hereby created to
    read as follows:
    (a) Purpose. The following regulations will govern the keeping of chickens in
    residential zoning districts and are designed to prevent nuisances and prevent conditions
    that are unsanitary or unsafe. No person shall keep chickens unless the following
    regulations are followed:
    (1) Number. No more than six (6) hens shall be allowed for each dwelling unit.
    (2) Setbacks. Coops or cages housing chickens shall be kept at least twenty-five
    (25) feet from the door or window of any dwelling or occupied structure other than the
    owner's dwelling. Coops and cages shall not be located within five (5) feet of a side-yard
    or rear-yard lot line. Coops and cages shall not be located in the front yard.
    (3) Enclosure. Hens shall be provided with a covered, predator-proof coop or
    cage that is well-ventilated and designed to be easily accessed for cleaning. The coop
    shall allow at least two square feet per hen. Hens shall have access to an outdoor
    enclosure that is adequately fenced to contain the birds on the property and to prevent
    predators from access to the birds. Hens shall not be allowed out of these enclosures
    unless a responsible individual, over 18 years of age, is directly monitoring the hens and
    able to immediately return the hens to the cage or coop if necessary.
    (4) Sanitation. The coop and outdoor enclosure must be kept in a sanitary
    condition and free from offensive odors. The coop and outdoor enclosure must be cleaned
    on a regular basis to prevent the accumulation of waste.
    (5) Slaughtering. There shall be no slaughtering of chickens.
    (6) Roosters. It is unlawful for any person to keep roosters.
    (7) The owner shall abide by all state laws and regulations for livestock premises
    registration, including applicable sections of Wisconsin Statute 95.51, and Wisconsin
    Administrative Code Chapter ATCP 17 and any applicable amendments thereto.
    Applicant shall also follow state law regarding import, purchase and sales of live poultry
    as set forth in ATCP 10.40 and ATCP 10.42 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code and
    any applicable amendments thereto.
    (8) There shall be no breeding or hatching of chickens.
    (9) Any poultry feed shall be stored so as to keep out rodents. The owner shall
    practice proper poultry waste disposal in order to avoid odors. Waste composting on the
    premises shall be allowed as long as it does not create odors or other nuisances for
    neighboring properties.
    (10) The main food source for the chickens should be provided in dedicated
    feeding containers and scatter feeding as the primary food source is prohibited (small
    amounts of scratch grains that do not accumulate on the property are allowable).

    (b) Permit. A permit shall be required to keep chickens in the City of
    Whitewater. An application for a permit must contain the following items:
    (1) The name, phone number, and address of the applicant.
    (2) The location of the subject property.
    (3) A proposal containing the following information.
    i. A description of any coops, cages or outdoor enclosures, providing
    dimensions and the precise location (if fixed) of these enclosures in relation to property
    lines and adjacent properties. If applicant proposes to use a mobile coup and/or a chicken
    run, the dimensions of the structure(s) shall be provided and the area of requested
    allowed placement areas shall be provided.
    ii. The application fee charge for the permit shall be $10.00. There shall
    be no charge for renewal of the permit.
    (4) If the applicant proposes to keep chickens in the yard of a rented dwelling, the
    applicant must present a signed statement from the owner of the dwelling consenting to
    the applicant's proposal for keeping chickens on the premises.
    (5) Chickens may only be kept on single-family unit lots. Chickens may not be
    kept on two-family or multiple-family lots.

    (c) Permit Renewal. Permits will be granted on an annual basis (unless this
    Chicken Ordinance is repealed). If the permittee follows the terms of the ordinance, the
    permit will be presumptively renewed (unless this Chicken Ordinance is repealed) and
    the applicant may continue to keep chickens under the terms and conditions of the initial
    permit. The City Neighborhood Services Director may refuse to renew or may revoke the
    permit at any time, (after giving the permittee 15 days notice of the basis for the
    revocation or nonrenewal and an opportunity to be heard on the issue) if the permittee
    does not follow the terms of this ordinance, or if the Neighborhood Services Director
    finds that the permit holder has not maintained the chickens, coops, or outdoor enclosures
    in a clean and sanitary condition.
    If the Chicken Ordinance is repealed, no party shall have the right to keep
    chickens based on a nonconforming use status obtained under this ordinance.

    (d) Penalty. Any person who violates any of the provisions of this chapter shall,
    upon conviction thereof, be subject to a penalty of not less than fifty dollars or more than
    one hundred dollars for the first offense; and for the second offense within year, shall be
    subject to a penalty of not less than one hundred dollars or more than two hundred
    dollars; and for a third and subsequent offenses within one year not less than two
    hundred dollars or more than three hundred dollars, together with the costs of
    Ordinance introduced by Council member ___________________________, who
    moved its adoption. Seconded by Council member ______________________________.
  2. wlbaker3

    wlbaker3 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 7, 2012
    Indianapolis, IN
    Great work. The more backyard chickens, the merrier.
  3. Linn Bee

    Linn Bee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Yea, Whitewater! Now, what's wrong with Janesville and Beloit. Rumor has it that both are considering a chicken ordinance.

    AND. . . how are you enjoying this firs snowfall? Looks like the wind is picking up and the snlw is getting dryer. Nope! Not going anywhere myself other than out side to tend the chickens and rabbit.

    Love, Smart Red
  4. tandemrx

    tandemrx Out Of The Brooder

    May 31, 2012
    My understanding was that Beloit passed their ordinance. I don't recall that Janesville was anywhere near passing one after their last failed attempt. Milton and Edgerton both just blocked ordinances this past summer. Pretty sure at least Milton didn't have an advocate, they were just bringing one to the table on their own - not sure about Edgerton in terms of having an advocate. If you don't dispel the simple misconceptions I don't think many communities would get an ordinance passed.

    My first winter with hens and first big snow with them. I am worried about their coop and how they will do overnight. Not the most rugged of coops - though seems sturdy enough and dry enough inside. They seem snug, but so many heavy branches I worry about errant branch breaking off or the wind doing some damage otherwise.
  5. boduke

    boduke New Egg

    Feb 20, 2013
    Hi guys. I was scrolling the search pages of the internet and stumbled upon the link to your Ordinance.

    I just started looking into raising chickens in my back yard. I am in Orfordville, WI and we have a pop of about 1200 people. As of right now chickens are listed as farm animals in our ordinances and therefore can not be raised within village limits. I have talked to the village clerk and she said i could come to the village board meeting and bring it up. I just want to be a little bit more prepared before i just go in there and they ok it but make up some crazy restrictions.

    I want to get the most info i can for myself and to help keep the restrictions to as few as I can. Being you guys are posting about Whitewater (I grew up in Fort Atkinson) I thought this might be a good place to start. Any ideas or steps in a certain direction anyone would suggest?

    Thank You
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  6. MadAngler

    MadAngler Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2014
    My Coop
    Great work by the Whitewater folks.

    Any updates from Milton or Janesville?

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