The city council approved a chicken ordinance for Byron at its regular meeting Sept. 27 at City Hall by a 3-2 vote. Council members Bob Meyer and Alan De Keyrel voted in favor of the project, as did Mayor Ann Diercks. Council members Bret Baumbach and Jason Snow opposed the project.
City staff now must publish the item in the newspaper for 30 days before it becomes official.
Byron resident Joanne Lipke, who has housed three hens in a coop on her property since May, first brought the subject to the Byron planning and zoning commission, which then recommended council approval.
Lipke said she prefers the taste of home-grown eggs to the ones found in stores.
"I want to thank all of you for your work on this," she said at the commisioner's meeting earlier this month. "I think it looks great."
Byron's current animal ordinance prohibits poultry of any kind in the city limits. The chicken ordinance will now allow no more than three hens, but still prohibits roosters.
"There's no roosters in this," city administrator Mary Blair-Hoeft said. "No cock-a-doodle-doo."
Council member Bret Baumbach said he's heard from a number of residents who oppose chickens in the city limits, and he agreed.
"I'll be blunt," he said. "I don't want chickens in Byron."
Snow also agreed.
The mayor said she didn't see it as a problem.
"As long as you follow the rules," she said.
Meyer made the motion to approve the ordinance.
"You can have chickens or you can have rabbits, what's the difference?" he said.
After a fairly long moment of silence following the motion, De Keyrel seconded it.
"I'm not thrilled with the ordinance, but I would say try it and if people complain, you can always change it," he said.
The document covers everything from the way the hens should be housed to requiring each resident to respect their neighbor's privacy when it comes to the noise of the birds.
The ordinance also prohibits the slaughtering of chickens, requires residents to obtain a permit, which is good for one year, and states that any person violating any of the sections of it shall be deemed guilty of a petty misdemeanor.
Hens must be housed in a coop located in the rear or side yard setback at least 10 feet from the rear or side property lines. The interior floor space is required to have at least three square feet per bird, with an interior height of four to six feet to allow access for cleaning and maintenance.
As far as the noise factor is concerned, the document covers it in one sentence.
"Chicken hens shall not be kept in such a manner as to constitute a nuisance to the occupants of adjacent property."