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City will allow up to five backyard hens

The Hudson City Council on a 4-2 vote Monday night adopted a long-debated ordinance allowing a limited number of residents to keep a handful of chickens in backyard pens.

The ordinance allows up to five hens to be kept in a coop with less than 30 square feet of floor area and a fenced run not to exceed 50 square feet. No roosters will be allowed.

People who want to keep chickens will have to obtain a city permit, and a maximum of 15 permits will be issued in 2014.

A group named Hudson Urban Chickens lobbied for passage of the ordinance, which reverses a previous ban on any farm animals in the city.

The council approved the first reading of the ordinance at its Oct. 21 meeting and scheduled a public hearing on it for Monday night to give citizens one more chance to weigh in on it.

No city residents took the opportunity, however. Dolly Qualls, a retired Hudson home economics teacher who resides in the town of Hudson, was the only speaker.

Qualls sang the praises of raising chickens, saying it was a good activity for children and provided nutritious food, among other things.

“They aren’t barking all night no long because you won’t let them in,” she added.

Voting to adopt the ordinance were alderpersons Mary Yacoub, Randy Morrissette II, John Hoggatt and Kurt TeWinkel.

The measure was opposed by Council President Rich Vanselow and Alderperson Lori Bernard. Vanselow ran the meeting in the absence of Mayor Alan Burchill.

“I do not find chickens and the city as compatible things,” said Vanselow, adding that he thinks some properties next to homes with chickens may lose value.

Bernard, too, indicated that concern about property values and neighbors having to put up with chickens were her main reasons for opposing the ordinance.

She said constituents had also voiced concerns to her about chickens attracting predators. She said she had received considerable negative feedback concerning the ordinance.

Hoggatt and Morrissette said they received mostly positive comments on the ordinance, and almost no complaints.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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