Menomonie residents urge support of keeping urban chickensChickens are "eggxactly" what Menomonie needs, according to a half-dozen people who spoke at Monday night's City Council meeting.
By: By Pamela Powers, The Leader-Telegram, Eau Claire, Wis., Superior Telegram
MENOMONIE -- Chickens are "eggxactly" what Menomonie needs, according to a half-dozen people who spoke at Monday night's City Council meeting.
The council didn't take action on a proposal to allow residents to raise chickens within city limits, but instead decided to form a committee to research the issue. So far, council members Sue Beety, Lynn Dickmann, Andrew Mercil and Lee Schwebs have been named to the committee.
During public comments, Dan Berger of Menomonie told the council he was attending as a chicken lover.
"I think we have room for chickens in Menomonie," he said. "Chickens are smart. They don't take off on you. You can let them out and range while you're working in the yard. They eat bugs."
Leah Dunbar said she wants to raise chicken because they are sustainable. They eat food waste and provide fertilizer for gardens.
Supporters of an urban chicken policy presented a petition in favor of the topic containing 100 names.
Councilwoman Sandy White played a recording of the "Chicken Dance" song prior to the council discussing the issue.
"If anyone wants to dance go for it," she joked.
Council members said decisions need to be made on the number of chickens that would be allowed, where they would be allowed, the size of coops and potential health concerns.
"This is not just a thumbs up or a thumbs down," city attorney Ken Schofield said. "There are issues you need to work out."
Councilman Paul Riedel asked about the financial impact to the city.
"Will we have to have an animal control officer or an addition to the Humane Society if a chicken gets picked up or is at large?" he asked.
City Administrator Lowell Prange said he would not anticipate such costs.
Councilman Andrew Mercil said there is the potential for revenue by potentially charging a small fee for having chickens.
Chickens and other livestock currently are allowed in the city in agriculturally zoned areas. Such areas exist along Meadow Hill Drive and Dairyland Road.
With a conditional use permit from the Board of Zoning Appeals, chickens and other livestock are allowed in residential lots of at least 5 acres.
The council Monday also approved raising the motel room tax from 6 to 7 percent. The move will boost revenue from the tax -- which is charged to residents who stay at motels in the city -- by about $40,000, from $240,000 to $280,000 per year.
The rate increase takes effect April 1. The most recent increase was in 2006.
Forty-two percent of the room tax will go to the Greater Menomonie Area Chamber to help promote events and activities to increase hotel stays.
Vishal Bhatnagar, owner of Quality Inn & Suites, 1721 Plaza Drive, supported the increase.
"With the current contract now in Menomonie, the increase in the tax revenue will in turn help us to bring more events and promote Menomonie more effectively."
That in turn will help increase lodging occupancy, he said.
Renee Wagner, manager of Super 8, 1622 Broadway St. N., agreed.
"The more Menomonie has to offer, the more our hotels will benefit," she said.
The council also agreed to put an item on its next meeting agenda regarding the development a review process of alcohol licenses for establishments that fail a compliance check, have any major or minor alcohol violation, or any alcohol-related incident.
Powers can be reached at 715-556-9018 or email@example.com.
- The city of Menomonie is forming a committee to research the possibility of allowing chickens within city limits. Residents who wish to participate can call the mayor's office at 715-232-2369.
(c)2012 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)
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