Monday, June 22, 2009

Monona Plan Commission Rejects Chickens UPDATED

On a split vote, the Monona Plan Commission recommended that the city council not approve the proposed ordinance to allow chicken keeping. I arrived late and missed the actual vote. The vote was 3-2 with members Brian Grady and Alder Jim Busse supporting the chicken proposal and members Homburg, Devenish, and Dorschel in the majority.

(I was originally told the vote was 4-2 to reject the ordinance, but have confirmed the correct split was 3-2). The Plan Commission Chair (alder Kathy Thomas) does not vote except in cases of a tie.

The Monona Public Safety Commission will take up the ordinance at its July 1 meeting. Both committees only make recommendations. The council decides.

The ordinance will be sent on to the council possibly for its July 20 meeting.


  1. Thank Grady and Busse for logical thinking and not being swayed by the uninformed masses.

    Where was Jane Kuzma? She seemed to be somewhat supportive.

    The other missing member, Moni Rohr, I don't know.

    How do you think Kathy would have voted, if Jane had been there and voted for the amendment, creating a tie?

  2. Kuzma and Rohr were not present. Don't know why, but it's summer and people miss meetings.

    Alder Thomas will get a chance to vote on it when it comes to the council.

    I take issue with the 'uninformed masses'. I do not accept the assertion that the vast majority of Monona residents are opposed to the ordinance. This idea seems to be strongly generational (I am at the old end of the supporters). I don't think the Plan Commission members are talking to a lot of the younger members of the community.

    I would also note that I won reelection and finished first and Chad lost by one vote. We were both closely tied to the proposed ordinance. I don't equate a vote for me as necessarily support for the ordinance, but it at least suggests quite a split of opinion.

  3. "I take issue with the 'uninformed masses'."

    Okay, "uninformed, but vocal minority." I realize the imprecision of my words, as I agree with you--I don't think the vast majority is opposed. (The vast majority isn't tuned in enough to have a clue about what's going on in the city government! :))

    But your point is well taken. If the "no" members of the Planning Commission were around in the 50s, they'd be in the ranks of those fearful of the impending cultural destruction that rock 'n' roll would bring. Hmm, America's still standing! And, hey! We're dancing!

    This vote is just one more bit of evidence that the established "old Monona" crowd is insular and cut off from so many of Monona's people. If they hang around with the same people all the time, what are they going to hear but the same old thing?

    But, if they cannot disregard the heckling of their cronies over something as innocuous as chickens, how will our community ever embrace the major changes -- changes necessary for our community's survival in the face of limited natural resources and economic system transformation -- that will be best for the FUTURE of Monona?

    It seems the value of sticking tightly to "what is," is more important than being flexible enough and far-seeing enough to adapt our community so that it can strongly face the challenges of the future.

    Methinks I should have a party and mix the "old Monona" with some of the "new."

  4. That party sounds like a great idea.

  5. Isn't that what the 4th of July festivities are, a party.

    Perhaps we should take that opportunity to educate people who stop by the TNS Monona booth that Chickens are not that big of an issue, and only a few people would keep them anyway. Plus no crowing roosters will be allowed.

    If you have a party another time it better be early so those who fear chickens won't be expected to stay up past their bedtime!

  6. I was thinking something more intimate liked a locked room or a cage-match....

  7. I also think the council should be careful in taking the advice of legal counsel that chickens are not currently allowed. That's just an opinion. It would be up to a judge to decide if chickens fall under the current ordinances. Who is to say that they are not pets? If a parrot or rabbit is allowed, why not a chicken? If I say my chicken is not a pet, and not for agricultural purposes, then can't I have a chicken?

    So a good reason for the council to pass a chicken ordinance is regulate the situation so that the city has the means to enforce any problems that could arise, such as a crowing rooster!

  8. Dude,
    I just read the herald indp. story about chickens. Does our city attorney really believe that collecting eggs for home use would be agriculture use? If this is true do I need a permit for my tomato plant?
    That is just a stupid ruling.

  9. HP,
    "Stupid ruling?" Collecting tomatoes from your garden is still OK because the ordinance specifically allows gardens for personal use.

    I believe the city attorney felt that his opinion draws what we lawyers like to call a 'bright line'. Without said bright line, enforcement of the ordinance would be very subjective and difficult to justify in court.

    One could think of other bright line tests (like 'are you selling the eggs?'), but I don't get paid to do legal analysis for the city. And after all when you collect the eggs, your chicken is producing food which is kind of the meaning of agriculture.

    p.s. If you grew your own plants for dye, you would be Henna Penny.

  10. The city attorney wants a bright line about a few chickens?

    Say, we picked the band for July 3 in the beer tent-I mean who are they, where did they come from? This is what is on the tongues of a lot of us out there.

    I mean do that not know about the Monona phenom called the Leeding zeros or are they not cool enough for the 4th of July committee?
    Seacrest Out,

  11. I think the city attorney prefers bright-line tests because it makes it clear whether a law has been violated.

    An example of a bright-line rule is a fixed speed limit (say, 25 mph) versus a subjective requirement to operate at a 'reasonable and prudent speed'. see 346.57 (3) and 346.57 (1) Wis Stats.

    From Wikipedia:

    A bright-line rule, or bright-line test, is a term generally used in law which describes a clearly defined rule or standard, composed of objective factors, which leaves little or no room for varying interpretation.

    The purpose of a bright-line rule is to produce predictable and consistent results in its application.

    Bright-line rules are usually standards established by courts in legal precedent or by legislatures in statutory provisions.

    Bright-line rules are often contrasted with "squishy" balancing tests, where a result is dependent on weighing several factors, which could lead to inconsistent application of law or reduce objectivity.

  12. Hey come on!
    THI story clearly noted that vegetable gardens are OK yet,,, at least according to Mr. Cole.

    Future feature story idea:
    Seedy stories from Monona's agricultural black market


  13. Hey, c'mon now guys, a ruling against the chicken proposal would just be for the greater good.

    (cue the townspeople from Hot Fuzz)

    "The greater good........"

  14. For single-family and two-family districts. The Monona code prohibits states:

    (4) Prohibited Uses.
    a. Agriculture, except for small home gardens for personal use.

  15. Townspeople from Hot Fuzz???
    Sorry, outside of my cultural reference points.

  16. Me, too.

    I don't get your joke, Travis. Please explain.

  17. Hot Fuzz - 2007

    :) Highly recommended.

  18. Speaking of rejections did the Weather change center make tit through the budget? I have not seen any complaints-so I am think it was cut?

    Also, did I C that the budget adds a liquor license for our fair city or has all this changing weather hurt my brain?

    ole' HP

  19. The climate change education center money stayed in the budget and so did the extra liquor license.

    The final budget (with vetoes):

    Here is a story on the proposed classroom:

  20. OK. Thanks. However, it is awful strange to have an weather change center with a liquor licenses. It does have some potential: serve a drink and have weather information on the napkin and certain drinks could lead to lots of in-depth conversations about weather: like the fog cutter, drought buster, hurricane, rainmaker and so on.