The Village of Union Grove is drafting an ordinance that would allow residents to keep a limited number of chickens in their yards.  (File photo)

Union Grove will draft rules for keeping poultry in village

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

Union Grove residents could soon have the opportunity to raise a small number of chickens, based on a recent pivotal decision.

On a 6-1 vote, the Village Board on April 25 gave the go-ahead to proceed with drafting a municipal ordinance that would allow for chickens in residential districts. Trustee Jan Winget was the dissenter.

While the board’s decision advances the proposal, it is not the last stop in the process.

Interim Village Administrator-Treasurer Kerry Bennett said there are still multiple steps that need to take place before residents can begin obtaining permits and raising chickens in their backyards.

“We’re probably looking at least three months, if approved, until it takes effect,” Bennett wrote in an email in response to a question from the Westine Report on next steps.

With the preliminary approval in play, the village’s legal counsel will play an important part in the next steps.

“The ordinance needs to be drafted and sent to the appropriate committee for approval,” Bennett wrote. “When/if that approval is granted at the committee level, it needs approval at the (Village) Board level.”

The ordinance will delve into a number of key points, including the number of chickens a household can have at any given time and where chicken coops can be placed in a yard.

The document also will outline the process for obtaining a permit, which would be a condition of having the chickens, and potential fees.

If ultimately adopted into an ordinance, a one-time application fee could be a part of the equation, in the range of $40 to $50. Additionally, an annual permit fee in the range of $70 to $100 has been proposed.

The topic of having feathered fowl within the village first arose in January when residents went before the village’s Administration Committee and inquired about raising chickens and harvesting eggs within the community.

Village President Steve Wicklund subsequently presented the proposal to his elected colleagues in mid-February. Reportedly, the proposal first surfaced from residents who wanted to raise chickens amid an effort to participate in the Racine County Fair.

When the preliminary board-level discussion occurred in February, Winget shared objections to the plan.

“I wouldn’t want it in my neighborhood,” Winget said. “There’s the smell, there’s the noise.”

Union Grove has long prohibited chicken keeping, though there have been past exceptions. For example, rural properties previously annexed into the village have been allowed to keep animals on the properties on a grandfathered basis.

Further discussion of the potential chicken ordinance is expected at upcoming committee and board meetings in the months ahead.