Last night, LaCrosse alderman, Bruce Ranis read the proposed ordinance change that would allow property owners within the city limits of LaCrosse to keep up to 5 hens in thier backyards (with a permit and under specific legal guidelines) into the minutes of the LaCrosse City Council special session.
The next step will be for the Judiciary and Administration committee to review the proposed ordinance change and hold public hearings to determine if there is indeed a desire among LaCrosse residents to see such a change enacted. Those who wish to see this legislation passed are advised to contact your local representative and let them know that you support the ‘Backyard Chicken Petition” and why.
Residents are encouraged to continue circulating copies of the petition for more signature or you can go online to view and sign a copy of the petition HERE.
Here is the link to a quick & easy form that is sent to all La Crosse City Council Members: www.cityoflacrosse.org/forms.aspx?FID=62. Just click on the link and you can let your representative know where you stand on this issue!
The following is a letter that Natalie Rose Kemp wrote to the LaCrosse Tribune on Monday, July 20, 2010. This is the full version of Ms. Kemp’s letter. She had to edit it to 250 words for the newspaper but asked that dampfang.com readers have the full version for their perusal.
I am writing regarding the city of La Crosse “Chicken Petition”. I created the petition on July 3, 2010 in response to the desire to improve quality of life for all, & most specifically to give my three children the very best in life experience as possible. I have asked the city of La Crosse to consider the many benefits of adopting a city ordinance that would allow, with legal controls in place for health, safety, noise, & sanitation, up to 5 hens within the residential zoning of La Crosse.
Modeled after Madison, WI city ordinance, as well as several other successful chicken ordinances across the nation this is a common-sense measure that respects personal freedom, community well-being, & displays careful attention to such timely issues as:
-Reduction & control of insects, including ticks & mosquitoes. This results in less vector-borne illness as well as improved environmental & public health through decreased pesticide application.
-Reduction in waste headed to the landfill as chickens will eat food scraps/what the kids didn’t.
-Economically wise for tough times. Eggs are expensive! A mail-order chick costs approximately $2.50 & it costs less than a dime a day for organic feed (purchased locally from Heartland Country Co-op, Westby, WI)!
-Emphasis is on self-sufficiency while also promoting a sense of community, thereby strengthening neighborhoods & promoting a safer environment.
-Decreased fertilizer application. Chicken manure is nitrogen rich, & a decidedly safer alternative than most fertilizer applications.
-Research shows that backyard chicken diets typically create an improved nutritional content within the egg, therefore improving overall health & nutritional status for the consumer.
-Chickens are fun! Entertaining! They make great outdoor company & are much quieter than a dog. My children & I adore our chickens & we await their return to our south side La Crosse home soon.
This is a situation in which the benefits of personal freedom to grow ones own food source/ & to enjoy a family pet clearly outweigh any perceived or potential threat/concern. Please consider the two most common arguments from our current city chicken opponents (& I say current because I fully believe that most, if not all will convert once given the proper information regarding what this ordinance is about): 1)”Chickens belong on a farm”. Not in the “backyard chicken” movement they don’t! Keeping a few chickens in the yard is a low-key, noise-free (no roosters!), smell-free, enjoyable process for the whole family! I understand that for many, the concept of “raising chickens” evokes thoughts/memories of a large scale, production-type, even “assembly-line” farm. That is not what this is about nor is there the opportunity for this ordinance to become anything beyond a 5 hen experience. This is due, in part to strict regulations that chicken-owners must adhere to or risk losing their city-treasurer issued license (think increased city revenue). Argument #2 is the “slippery slope” argument. That is that, “if we let ’em have their chickens, then they’re gonna want their goats, cows, horses, etc”. Not true & honestly, this is a non-issue to the proposed ordinance change at hand. Again, this is not about creating farms in the city, it’s about respecting common-sense benefits, personal freedom, increasing sense of community, sustainability, identifying ways to economic responsibility through decreasing any financial burden by lowering food costs, & allowing those who desire to provide the very best to their loved ones.
I am a Registered Nurse with a BSN from UW-Madison, Certified Public Health Nurse, & Licensed School Nurse. My education & training allow me to pay particular attention to the health & safety aspects of backyard chicken raising. Through my research, it is evident that a small backyard flock poses no real recognizable health hazard to humans &/or other animals/pets when properly cleaned & maintained. Legalizing backyard chicken raising is not so much a “hippy” concept or a radical movement of any sort as it is a simple, logical & beneficial choice for all involved. Again, let me reiterate that we are in no way talking of a “farm” within the city, but simply the right to raise up to 5 hens, with a permit granted by the city (again, increasing city revenue), & with other restrictions/controls in place as detailed in the ordinance change.
I have the support of many of my neighbors & since 7/3/10 have collected over 300 city of La Crosse resident signatures on the “Chicken Petition” in hard copy & online. I welcome & encourage city of La Crosse residents to continue signing the online petition & to express why they believe this ordinance should pass to our City Council Members & Mayor. Community members may also contact me directly to discuss this issue further.
This is obviously a timely issue that the community cares about & wants to see change; the “Chicken Petition” made front page Tribune news twice, an interview appeared on Channel News 19, the topic was discussed on a local radio talk show, & ample media attention has been received from various news sources, online blogs, etc. I have included many of the links below as I find the support from fellow chicken-supporters overwhelming & any concerns expressed real yet adequately addressed through appropriate measures written into the ordinance.
La Crosse, it is time to fully embrace a model of sustainability mixed with a little old-time practicality that allows for the forward-thinking progress we all desire in our city. Let’s step it up & get the “Chicken Petition” ordinance passed!
Sincerely & Respectfully Submitted,
Natalie Rose Kemp
The popular urban chicken website “The City Chicken.com” has a page devoted to cities all over the US and Canada who have sought to change ordinances allowing their residents to keep chickens on their own property.
Want a chuckle? Here’s a great audio clip featuring a gentleman’s true ordeal while trying to find out if it was legal for him to keep a few chickens within the city limits of his home town..
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As always, your comments are welcome.