Sunday, February 22, 2009

learning from an urban chickens rejection

Bad news out of Racine, Wisconsin, (pop: 81,000; map)this week: the Village Board voted against changing the ordinance that forbids urban chickens in residential areas.

Lucky for us, one of the participants in the Racine urban chickens proposal, Tracy, has been kind enough to provide the details on what transpired in their effort to get an urban chickens ordinance passed as well as her thoughts on what went wrong.

Tracy writes:
It’s hard to say what we could have done differently or better. Our village board spent three meetings hearing both sides, but it seems they already had their minds made up and were unwilling to consider this positive change. We started with our ordinance modeled after the one in Madison, WI, which is about 90 miles west of us. After the first meeting, it seemed that board members wanted us to address some of the issues raised by opponents – the usual laundry list of unfounded misconceptions – odor, noise, predators, declining property values. So we radically beefed up our proposal – modeling our revision after the successful ordinance in South Portland, ME. We thought it was very reasonable! At the final board meeting, opponents voiced those same fears again. Two of the board members were supportive, but the rest stated reasons such as “we have zoning and ordinances for a reason” and “if we allow chickens, then soon people will be asking for a goat…where does it end?” So you can see, we have some pretty rigid mindsets that we were just unable to budge.

There are people in Racine, Milwaukee and Shorewood – all in southeastern Wisconsin – trying to get their own backyard chicken proposals. We’ll be closely watching their progress. I also have to thank you for your blog. We were able to utilize many of the links you’ve shared.

The links below to all the press we’ve received in the past two months. Most are from our local newspaper, the Racine Journal Times, and the last one is a link to a television news story:
Thanks, Tracy, for being so generous in sharing what happened along the way during your (temporary) setback.

Here's hoping others can learn from your experience so we can have more legal urban chickens around the country continent (Canada, too!).

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