Boots & Sabers

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1935, 06 Jan 19

Chickens Come Home to Roost in West Bend

I know, I know… on the headline… groan. I couldn’t help myself. In any case, the West Bend Common Council will be taking up changes to the chicken ordinance tomorrow. The Washington County Insider has the details:

Jan. 6, 2019 – West Bend, WI – Here we go again. Monday night, Jan. 7 the West Bend Common Council will address the chicken issue as aldermen vote on changes to the ordinance and whether to finally allow chickens in the community.

The issue was tabled at the Dec. 17, 2018 meeting. Aldermen had some questions and there was extensive discussion. Click HERE to read more and watch the meeting video.

Changes were made to the proposed ordinance (see below) or click HERE for item 8. Monday, another vote will be taken on the issue.

The changes would essentially allow city residents to keep up to four hens (no roosters) in a coop on their property after getting a permit from the city. The City would notify neighbors of the permit request – presumably to give them the opportunity to protest against the permit if they want.

For the life of me, I have no idea why people get so exercised by chickens. This seems to be have been a rolling controversy in community after community as some city residents want to grow their own food. Chickens are just a step beyond having your own vegetable garden. But controversial it is…

As far as I’m concerned, I don’t care if people want chickens. It is their property and they can do what they want with it as long as it does not interfere with someone else’s property rights. We already have nuisance laws, so the need to license and regulate chicken coops seems idiotic and a waste of taxpayer money to me. There will only be a handful of people who actually try to raise chickens (I’m sure several will try, realize what a pain it is, and quit shortly thereafter). If it becomes a problem, then deal with the individuals accordingly.


1935, 06 January 2019


  1. Kevin Scheunemann


    I substantially agree with your position.   However, this could easily become a “regulatory enforcement” nightmare for the municipality.

    Some constituents are relentlessly “anti-chicken” and will call the municipal authorities even if the chicken raising neighbor is meeting all municipal requirements.   So it can possibly inflame neighbors who may already have tension.

    Other times, bad actors will complain they got a citation, or warning, for their bad actions on the issue.

    That is the part that worries me on this issue.   Can everyone act with responsible intent?  Municipalities have enough to do without having to consume resources on a neighborhood “chicken war”.

    Assuming everyone is a responsible actor, your position is sound.   It’s the irresponsible actors that give me pause on this issue.

  2. Owen

    If the fact that some people are jackasses is an excuse for more government, then we might as well give up :)

  3. Kevin Scheunemann

    In this case, I think keeping prohibition (vs.policing) in place might be less government, in terms of time and effort.

    I’m torn on that part.

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