Questions arise as supervisors are poised to adopt standards for raising livestock on residential parcels
Town of Saukville Supr. Mike Denzien has been crafting a revised animal ordinance since February, but it looks like he is going to have to spend a little more time on the regulations.
The Town Board was poised to approve the revised section of the zoning code Tuesday, but several last minute alterations forced supervisors to return the ordinance to the Plan Commission.
Denzien tackled revising the ordinance at the request of the commission and Town Chairman Don Hamm, who saw the need to simplify the process landowners must go through to have domestic animals on their property.
“Conspicuously absent is the permitting process ... those are all gone,” Denzien said while presenting the draft ordinance last week to the Plan Commission.
In the past, multiple conditional-use permits were required if a family wanted to own a variety of animals on what could be described as a hobby farm.
The proposed changes apply in cases where raising animals is considered an accessory use on a property, not the primary use as would be the case at a farm.
One of the stated purposes of the ordinance is “to eliminate unduly burdensome and costly permitting requirements related to private kennels and keeping of horses and other livestock.”
Private kennels would be allowed to temporarily train and breed dogs, provided the owner is not paid for the service.
Business ventures, such as commercial kennels and public stables would remain conditional uses that would require Plan Commission review and approval.
The ordinance draws from an animal-unit table which generally allows one horse or cow for each two acres of property. A single animal unit would convert to two pigs, 10 turkeys and 12.5 chickens or ducks.
According to the draft chart, the owner of a five-acre parcel would by right be allowed to have three animal units — plus a half an animal unit for each additional acre.
The conversion table included in the proposed ordinance was one of the reasons final approval was delayed, according to Denzien.
He said a similar table used by the Department of Natural Resources should probably be used rather than the chart he developed.
Uncertainty about the enforcement powers granted to the commission in the revised code also played a role in the delayed action by supervisors.
Officials anticipated the ordinance may become controversial when it comes to governing the number of dogs or cats allowed on a property.
The owner of a two-acre parcel would be limited to having no more than three dogs and five cats.
That hunch proved true last week during a public hearing on the ordinance held by the Plan Commission.
Town resident Darryl Habeck asked whether an exception could be made in cases where a property owner provides a temporary home for animals.
Habeck, a former town constable, said he regularly provides foster care for dogs from the humane society.
He said he keeps three licensed dogs on his five-acre property. According to the animal conversion chart, as many as nine dogs could be kept on his property.
“What happens if a dog I am providing foster care to has a litter?” Habeck asked.
The query touched off a “chicken or the egg” debate.
“Puppies don’t really count as dogs,” Denzien said.
When the Town Board considered the ordinance recommended by the planning body nearly a dozen residents questioned how the new rules would affect their animal raising, particularly poultry.
What primarily touched off the concerns were the setback requirements for animal-related accessory structures, such as chicken coops.
Denzien noted such restrictions are already in place with the current zoning code.
“The fact is, our code is very much complaint driven. There probably won’t be a problem unless we hear from your neighbor,” he said.