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Feathers fly over chicken law
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MONROE - During its first meeting in April, the Monroe Common Council will be asked to approve the permit fee allowing city residents to keep chickens in their backyards, which may cause contention among the group already split on the ordinance.

On Feb. 17, the council barely passed, on a 4-3 vote, an ordinance allowing chickens within city limits. The ordinance specifies that property owners may apply for an annual permit to keep up to six chickens in their backyards. Chicken owners cannot have roosters, and they must keep all hens secured within a coop and run.

Since then, City Clerk Carol Stamm said, the city has had about six inquiries by residents looking to obtain chicken permits. The city is currently finalizing a draft of the permit application. Stamm said she will recommend the fee for a permit to the council, which must approve it.

The permit is an annual one, and owners will be required to apply each year. The fee is to cover processing the application.

But alderman Reid Stangel wants the council to revisit the chicken issue.

Stangel was not present for the Feb. 17 meeting and vote, although the council did attempt to contact him via phone. Stangel said at the last council meeting that his constituents have expressed disdain for the ordinance, and were unhappy that he wasn't there to vote down the law allowing chicken permits. He requested the council revisit the issue.

City Attorney Rex Ewald said the council could review the ordinance in one of two ways: It could send the measure to the Judiciary and Ordinance Review committee to examine again and recommend the council vote to reverse it, or it could call a vote to suspend the rules and include discussion of retracting the law on its April 6 agenda.

However, other aldermen objected to taking a law off the books they passed only a month ago. Alderman Michael Boyce, who referred to the chicken ordinance as "one of the silliest" laws he has seen throughout his time on council, was also against revisiting the issue after it had been finalized.

"It's a practice I don't think we should engage in on a regular basis," Boyce said.

Stangel moved for a vote to revisit the issue on the April 6 agenda, but the motion was defeated 6 to 3 by council members Charles Koch, Chris Beer, Louis Armstrong, Tom Miller, Brooke Bauman and Boyce. Stangel, Jeff Newcomer and Richard Thoman were in favor of revisiting the ordinance.