SALEM LAKES — Residents interested in keeping chickens on residential lots in Salem Lakes scrutinized policies from other communities to find rules that will work locally and made suggestions Monday for amendments to a draft ordinance being considered by the Village Board.
They agree on at least one thing — there is no place for roosters.
“We did not put roosters in our proposal,” Peter Poli, who organized meetings with residents on the issue, said. “We just felt that was something that wasn’t going to fly.”
Several risked being found in non-compliance of the existing ordinance by sharing their names, addresses and the number of chickens they are already keeping while offering their opinions.
Officials admitted they know of dozens of residents who are keeping chickens and had been working under a “no complaint, no action” policy until an egregious violation drew attention to the rules.
Salem Lakes administrator Mike Murdock said the goal is to create an ordinance that is in the best interests of the entire community and is enforceable.
The existing ordinance, amended last year, allows residents with two acres or more to keep up to six hens. It is more restrictive for residents who live in the area of the village that made up the town of Salem prior to its merger with Silver Lake.
Residents met to review an amended ordinance proposed by John Carrier, who handles ordinance enforcement for the village. It would allow up to four hens on any size residential lot and up to 20 on two acres or more, under a permitted process. If rules regarding coop and care standards are violated, the resident would lose the privilege of keeping chickens for three years.
Residents presented an alternative under which: lots up to 10,000 square feet would be allowed to have up to 6 chickens; lots more than 10,001 square feet and less than 20,000 square feet would be allowed a maximum of 8 chickens; lots above 20,001 square feet but less than 40,000 square feet would be allowed a maximum of 10 chickens; lots above 40,001 square feet but less than 87,119 would be allowed a maximum of 12 chickens; and larger lots would be allowed a maximum of 20 chickens.
“I do like the numbers and the size of the lots given to us in your proposed ordinance,” trustee Ted Kmiec said.
Trustee Ron Gandt said he would support up to six chickens in most residential areas and no limit on the number if a property has five or more acres.
Tesar noted a consensus exists among board members to allow some chickens on less than two acres. However, trustees said they also need to take into consideration the numerous emails in opposition to the keeping of chickens in residential areas they received from residents.
“We have to balance your needs and wants with the desires of the rest of the village,” trustee Mike Culat said.
Poli added residents would like the permit fee to be less than the $50 proposed, disagree with a clause that revokes permits for three years after one violation and question the need for an annual inspection.
“In no case were we able to find a town in Wisconsin that charges more than $10 to keep chickens,” Poli said.
The group suggested a $5 fee and proposed the village may refuse to renew a license after three violations and make a license ineligible for reissuance for one year.
Kmiec said he would support a $10 or $20 fee, while trustee Dennis Faber said he feels the $50 fee and annual inspection is appropriate.
Administrator Mike Murdock said an annual visit is not currently required. He said he will take the information provided by the residents, feedback on it and the draft amendment from officials, discuss coop permitting issues with the building inspector, and bring something back to the board.