Arrowhead Lane neighbor’s complaint is first filed under the updated animal control ordinance
The Town of Saukville Plan Commission made short work last week of the first complaint filed under the town’s revised animal ordinance.
The ordinance was adopted earlier this summer to simplify the regulations for town residents who want to raise animals.
Arrowhead Lane resident Gary Laubenstein filed the first petition under the ordinance last month, asking town officials to take action against neighbors Bryan and Erin Stewart.
The Stewarts raise poultry on their property, and provide a place where 4-H members can raise birds prior to the Ozaukee County Fair.
The couple began raising poultry on the property in 2000, shortly after they moved into their home.
“For years, I’ve been having problems with their birds,” Laubenstein said in his complaint.
He alleged the three chicken coops on the Stewart property are too close to the lot lines, that the noise caused by the birds — especially geese and roosters — constitutes a nuisance and that the birds often roam onto his property.
“Last summer there were 13 roosters and five geese. This summer, there aren’t 13 roosters but there is a constant crowing all day long,” Laubenstein said.
The Stewarts prepared their own documents, noting all five neighbors within 500 feet of their property — other than Laubenstein — have signed statements that they have no problems with the birds.
In those supporting statements, one of the neighbors, Lauren Garlovsky, said that the chicken flock is part of the charm of rural living.
“I live in the country to be surrounded by nature and animals. I enjoy the chickens as much as I enjoy seeing Mr. Laubenstein mowing his lawn and tending his garden,” Garlovsky wrote.
The Stewarts said their flock of chickens averages between 45 and 50 birds, and increasing to as high as 100 leading up to the county fair.
“We do not exceed the permanent number of allowed animal units on our property. We maintain a clean coop, clean and prompt disposal of manure and maintain coops so they do not become unsightly, unsanitary or foul smelling,” the couple wrote in their summary.
After receiving Laubenstein’s complaint, Town Chairman Don Hamm asked Plan Commission member Todd Korb to visit the Stewart property and verify the facts.
Korb told the commission he saw 47 chickens and three geese on the property, along with three chicken coops and a 30-by-50-foot storage shed.
After agreeing the complaint had some merit, commission members then went about drafting “an order of corrective action” to address Laubenstein’s concerns.
After commission members noted the zoning code allows no more than three accessory buildings on a property, Stewart quickly agreed to remove one of the smaller coops.
“This is definitely not what we want, but we will do it,” Mr. Stewart said.
The couple also agreed to move one of the remaining chick coops to meet setback requirements, noting that would mean the structure will actually be closer to Laubenstein’s property.
According to the code, one of the accessory structures can be as close as five feet to the lot line, provided the building is smaller than 150 square feet.
Commission members discounted the contention that the chickens represent a nuisance that requires action by the town.
“I struggle with going along with one neighbor who says the chickens are a nuisance when everyone else says they are not,” commission member Kevin Kimmes said.
The commission approved a three-part order to address the chicken concerns raised by Laubenstein.
In accordance with the town’s zoning codes, the Stewarts were told no coops are allowed closer than 50 feet from the Arrowhead Lane right-of-way; only one coop can be as close as five feet from the sideyard property line; and all other accessory structures must be at least 30 feet from the side lot line.
The commission gave the Stewarts until next June to make the corrective actions.
After the action, Stewart was skeptical that the neighborhood dispute has been finally resolved.
“I am willing to do what I can to help, but I guarantee we will still be hearing from Mr. Laubenstein,” Stewart said.