The topic of chicken is once again on the table, but not the dinner table. The Public Safety committee took a look at a proposal April 27 via Zoom meeting to approve a City of Amery Chicken Ordinance. Currently it is illegal to have chickens within city limits. The committee gave the green light and it will now be reviewed by the Finance committee.

According to the proposal, families and others within the city limits desire permission to have backyard chickens. “We have drafted a brochure and license application for city use, and we have organized the following information in order to make the process easy for the city to consider for approval and to also quickly enable resident participation in the program during these uncertain times if the ordinance is approved.”

Those encouraging the  approval feel with springtime seeing many families at home during quarantine, it is an ideal time to plan small coops, build them with their families and acquire the food-producing pets for the season ahead. They state it is a welcome distraction during these unprecedented times, produces eggs and provides a learning opportunity and companionship. 

FFA and Amery Agriculture teacher, Derrick Meyer is positive about the opportunity for Amery city residents and UW Poultry Specialist Bonnie Walters reviewed the Ordinance in detail and responded favorably. 

Many cities both rural and urban throughout the country have adopted similar ordinances including Ashland, Baldwin, Eau Claire, New Richmond and Wausau.

In 2015, the Amery City Council failed to pass a Chicken Ordinance by a 2-4 vote.

Alderpersons Jack Rodgers and Rick Van Blaricom voted in favor of the ordinance; Alderpersons Tim Strobusch, Julie Riemenschneider, Kris Vickers and Rick Davis voted against passage of the ordinance.

A public hearing on the ordinance saw three citizens speaking at the hearing; all were in favor of the ordinance. Supporters said that chickens provide great mulch for the yard and eat food scraps that would normally go to the landfill and that passage of a chicken ordinance would show that Amery is a green city that embraces ecological values.

Jen Lee and her husband Luke, who brought the idea of a chicken ordinance back in 2015, after it failed to pass in 2011 said that the concerns that arose during the previous effort, about noise, smell and attracting rodents had all been addressed in the new ordinance. Having chickens in the city limits would, according to Lee, be a healthy and inexpensive way for people to get protein and the benefits of local egg production outweigh any negatives.

The latest attempt for chickens in town has been catching a lot of social media attention on the Amery Backyard Chickens Facebook page, where local chicken enthusiasts have joined together for the common appreciation of poultry, they encourage anyone who is in favor of the chicken ordinance to write a letter of support and send it to City Hall.

After Finance, the topic will move forward to the City Council for a vote that will determine the fate of the topic.

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