Board may make city chicken-free zone

Ward One Alderman Jeff Olson brought up the question at the city board’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday of whether the city should change its animal control ordinance to specifically outlaw ownership of chickens.

“We have received lots of complaints,” Mayor Kent said, noting that keeping chickens and roosters for pets or other purposes has apparently increased. “Do we have a need to change the ordinance to no chickens?” Olson said he was just seeking the thoughts of the other aldermen for now, but would like to act soon.

The current ordinance prohibits keeping or raising “any fowl, livestock or other animals excepting dogs, cats, birds and other household pets within 300 feet of the residence of any other person who shall complain, in writing, to the mayor and board of aldermen regarding the same.”

“We now require a written complaint which can sometimes elevate the animosity,” he said. The only animal specifically prohibited under any circumstances is swine, although the ordinance was updated several years ago to deal with animal cruelty and vicious dogs.

One solution may be to control chicken problems through zoning, only allowing them in agriculturally-zoned areas.

Currently, the fine for violating this part of the city ordinances is a fine of $5 for a first offense, $25 for a second offense and $50 for a third offense. Each day is also considered a separate offense.

Attorney Regan Russell pointed out that aldermen need a proposed amendment before they can set a public hearing, so the board directed him to create a draft to be discussed at the July meeting with the intention of setting a hearing for the August meeting.

The public will be allowed to express opinions and concerns at that time.