Marshall residents may soon be allowed to raise chickens on their properties through a newly-proposed ordinance.

The village planning commission’s May 27 meeting featured a lengthy discussion on whether to amend municipal code to allow chickens on residential properties. The commission tabled the measure until next month in order to await further information.

Spearheaded by Marshall resident Becky Armstrong, the proposal initially suggested a limit of 10 chickens per household, as a limit of four animals would not provide a cost saving benefit, Armstrong said. However, commission members expressed reservations on allowing up to 10 chickens.

“Most families will go through anywhere from a dozen to a dozen and a half (eggs) a week, so eight (chickens) would be a perfectly fine number as well,” Armstrong said. “I just know that when you get down to that range of four, by the time you are all done adding all of the feed in and the cost of maintenance and everything, it’s cheaper to just go to the store and buy a dozen eggs than to actually have chickens.”

Primary concerns over the proposal included noise and odor issues, along with uncertainty on what limits to place on butchering the animals.

Armstrong stated chickens are much quieter than barking dogs and the ordinance could include penalties for not keeping the chicken housing clean. Practicing composting and planting herbs around the pen can also help reduce the odor, she said.

An early draft of the chicken ordinance requires prospective owners to build a well-ventilated, fully-enclosed housing structure and to also obtain a license, which would help to assure that only those who are serious about owning chickens would pursue the endeavor, Armstrong said. The village’s building inspector would be in charge of approving the housing structure and issuing the permit, Clerk Lindsey Reno said.

The ordinance also requires the housing structure must provide a minimum of two square feet per chicken and must be kept at a constant temperature of about 35 degrees or higher, though owners can also take their chickens to slaughter farms before cold weather sets in, Armstrong said.

“I personally think if this moves forward, you need to reduce the square footage that’s even allowed,” commission member Sue Peck said. “I think that you should look at (requiring) no coop structure shall exceed an area of 60 square feet.”

Though most of the commission expressed support for some form of chicken ordinance, commission member Vickie Vick-Peck was strongly against it.

“I’ve lived in this community my whole life and there was a time when a lot of people raised chickens in town,” Vick-Peck said. “Our community grew and we got to the point where we didn’t want that anymore and there were a lot of reasons for it. I feel really strongly that chickens don’t belong in a village or a city.”

The commission agreed to table the discussion in order to look into concerns, to review the drafted ordinance and to suggest adjustments.

Other commission action

• Denied a conditional use permit request from Madison-based Precision Diagnostics after the company decided not to pursue an offer to take ownership of a property at 118 Industrial Drive.

“I don’t know if there might be something in the future for them, but it appears they are not moving forward at this time.” Reno said.

• Recommended the village board approve a certified survey map for Ron and Paulette Riege at 6110 Hurd St., which would allow them to combine two residential lots that had been split in 2016. The reversal follows an inability to find a buyer for one of the lots, Reno said.

• Recommended the village board approve the addition of red metal siding to village well No. 1 on Hubbell Street.

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