After going through protracted approval process, chairman says simpler approach is on horizon
Town of Saukville officials received even more confirmation at the December Plan Commission meeting that the permit process for approving farm animals needs to be tweaked.
Town Chairman Don Hamm said as much after a young couple appeared at several commission meetings and a public hearing in the quest for a conditional-use permit to raise horses.
At that time, Hamm vowed to spend time this winter simplifying the process.
Before that review could take place, however, Michelle Densow and her family appeared before the commission seeking approval for a home site and hobby farm on a five-acre parcel on Echo Lane.
Densow said she hoped to raise a couple of horses for her daughters on the property, along with some pygmy goats and a few chickens.
The vacant parcel has agricultural zoning and abuts a 105-acre farm owned by her mother.
The request sent the commission into a detailed discussion of how many “animal units” are allowed on a five-acre property.
Following a formula adopted by the state and incorporated into the town’s zoning code, commission members said as many as three horses would be allowed on the five-acre property.
Using the animal unit conversion table, they also noted that the state considers one horse to be equal to 10 goats or 33 chickens, based on a formula calculating how much manure each animal generates.
Commission member Jeff Bell said a closer reading of the zoning code, however, showed that three horses would be allowed only if the project is identified as a private stable, but just two horses if it is considered a hobby farm.
“If it is a stable, I would think you can only have horses,” said commission member Tom Ravn.
Ravn then injected a little levity to the discussion, in response to a question if the size of the horse would make a difference in how many would be allowed.
“A horse is a horse, of course of course,” he said, quoting the theme song from the “Mr. Ed” television show.
Hamm was almost apologetic in saying Densow would be better off if she held off on proceeding with her request for approval of the hobby farm until the code is reworked.
Densow said the family hopes to start home construction in January, with completion eyed for next summer.
Hamm suggested the town refund the permit fee, and Densow begin the process after the code is rewritten.
“We just started that process and now it looks like we will also have to consider clarifying the hobby farm question,” he said.
“We should have it ready by spring when you are ready for your animals.”