After months of discussion, village trustees are poised to approve a new ordinance next week that would formally allow chickens to take roost in backyards throughout DeForest.
A decision would cap off consideration that dates back to late June, when Commerce Street resident Kristen Mcintyre first appeared before the Village Board to ask that she be able to allow 10 hens to remain at her property.
Last spring, Mcintyre built a coop in her backyard to house the fowl, and said she had so under the belief that urban coops were legal in DeForest. Mcintyre later received a notice from the village zoning staff stating that the hens were non-compliant and needed to go.
The news led Mcintyre to appeal to trustees to allow the coop and its inhabitants to stay, citing the growing popularity of raising chickens within communities such as Madison, Middleton and Stoughton. Mcintyre was granted permission to keep the hens on her property while trustees considered their options.
In the months that followed, village staff distributed a survey that yielded more than 500 responses. Deane Baker, head of public works for the village, told the board July 21 that approximately 75 percent of respondents were favorable of allowing chickens in DeForest.
Trustees subsequently gave Baker approval to move ahead with drafting an ordinance that would grant compliance to urban chicken coops. Last week, Baker presented trustees with the preliminary document, which would add chickens to DeForest’s allowable animals list that includes dogs and cats. No fees or licensing would be needed for those wanting to house such birds.
The ordinance states that up to six chickens would be allowed per household. Trustee Chip Van Meter mentioned the possibility of approving a higher number, but multiple board members sided with Baker’s suggestion of six.
“Many communities allow four, some allow six,” Baker said. “So this is on the high end.”
Trustees Jeff Miller and Dick Josephson both gave that figure their blessing and Village President Judd Blau added that “I’m fine with six as well.”
The preliminary ordinance also requires that chicken owners prevent the accumulation of waste on their property. Mcintyre previously told the board she uses the material generated by her birds for garden fertilizer.
After discussing the ordinance draft, trustees expressed satisfaction with it. The board could render a decision at its Sept. 15 meeting.