What have chickens ever done to you, Mr. Mayor?

I T SEEMS THAT SOME city officials suffer from alektorophobia. There seems to be no other possible explanation for continued opposition to allowing a small number of chickens to be kept by city residents under very strict conditions as approved - after careful study and proper modifications - by both the Plan Commission and the City Council.

The latest came when Mayor Donald Pohlman vetoed the council’s action approving the two ordinances to allow chickens in the city - in limited number and with strict regulation.

He and other opponents of allowing chickens have still not made a rational, supportable argument against a practice that has proven successful in many municipalities across the country, from Madison to Missoula; of all sizes, from Altoona to Atlanta; and as nearby as Sheboygan and Sheboygan Falls.

They contend that chickens are farm animals and not pets. Yet chickens have been domesticated for generations and are quieter and more docile than many breeds of dogs that are common household pets.

Another objection raised by the mayor and other opponents is property rights.

Any chicken license would have required approval by all adjoining property owners under the rules vetoed by the mayor. But that control was not enough for opponents.

They claim that while a property owner may approve chickens in a neighbor’s yard originally, their presence in a neighboring yard will make it difficult to sell in the future - more difficult to sell than a house next to commercial or industrial properties, alongside a rail line, or adjacent to a busy, noisy park or school - all of which seem to continue to sell.

Property owners do not get annual approval - or even initial approval - when neighbors buy a dog or cat, plant trees or gardens, paint their house a different color they might find unappealing, or do any of the many things property owners do every day. Why should it be different for chickens?

Then there is the old canard of ‘it will diminish property values,’ a tactic that has been raised in opposition to everything from industrialization to integration over the decades.

No one has provided any statistical or empirical evidence that allowing chickens in a city anywhere has had any sort of deleterious impact on property values. Where’s the proof?

Indeed, the mayor has rejected the ‘it will diminish property values’ arguments raised by opponents of projects he championed - such as the restoration of the Plymouth-Kohler rail line and the expansion of cheese storage facilities and increased truck traffic in the Cheeseville corridor adjacent to residential neighborhood - in the past.

Now suddenly he has become a staunch defender of property values in the face of chickens?

We still don’t know the answer to the age-old question of why the chicken crossed the road, and we also don’t have an answer to why the mayor crossed the road to the other side on the issue of protecting property values.

Finally, the mayor said, “This doesn’t match what Plymouth is about.” Apparently, he hasn’t paid attention to the Plymouth Rocker mural with its Plymouth barred-rock chicken recognizing one of the city’s earliest industries just half a block from City Hall.

Both the Plan Commission and the City Council deliberated long and hard on the issue, examining it - for the most part - dispassionately and deliberately. Those who did their homework and considered it purposefully crafted a set of rules that were honed to provide the greatest protection for all involved - only to have it irrationally rejected.

Chickens - and the few people who would like to raise them or keep them as pets, for many good reasons - deserve better.

By the way, if you haven’t looked it up yet, alektorophobia is an irrational fear of chickens.

At issue:
Chicken ordinance veto
Bottom line:

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