Chickens come home to roost

City ordinance allows up to 4 per home

Three years after initially rejecting the idea, Shawano city officials Wednesday approved ordinance changes allowing backyard chickens to be kept within the city.

The Common Council approved the amendments by a 5-1 vote, with Alderwoman Sandy Steinke casting the sole no vote.

The idea also had the unanimous support of the plan commission at a meeting two weeks ago.

The first amendment struck down the city’s ban on keeping fowl within the city, though there was some question as to whether that would also mean ducks would be allowed.

City Administrator Brian Knapp said that while the prohibition on ducks was technically being removed, there was no mechanism being added to the ordinances that would allow city residents to apply to keep them.

The council then adopted a new ordinance that lays out the rules and requirements for the keeping of chickens.

The ordinance requires chicken owners to get a permit from the city and approval in writing from their neighbors.

They will also have to register their chickens with Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, which is a state-mandated requirement.

Up to four chickens will be allowed, but no roosters. The chickens cannot be slaughtered.

Sanitary enclosures would be required that would have to be kept clean, ventilated and predator-proof, and located at least 25 feet from any dwelling.

The ordinance also sets down regulations for the size and location of chicken coops and requires feed to be kept in rodent- and predator-proof containers.

There will be an annual fee of $5 per chicken coop.

Permits could be revoked by the Common Council on the recommendation of the city clerk or building inspector if there are complaints or problems.

Knapp said the building inspector and police department would work jointly to enforce the rules.

Scott Krueger, a dietitian and Shawano resident, first brought the chicken proposal to the plan commission in May 2014.

After re-introducing it at a plan commission meeting last month, Krueger said he was optimistic the ordinance could be passed this time.

“I think there are a lot of people in the community that are in favor of this, and I think people have brought that to the council’s attention,” he said. “I think this should be seen as something the community wants and not just one or two people.”