Council Roundup: Pit Bulls, Chickens And More

It was a busy agenda on Tuesday, in addition to passage of the 2014 budget, so here goes …

First, the Legislation and Permits Committee voted to reaffirm our bans on chickens and pit bulls in separate votes.

I voted to uphold both bans.

On chickens … I understand the arguments for allowing them, and find most of them quite valid, especially the desire to increase the amount of locally grown food and the positive health effects that brings. That is why I strongly considered voting to allow them with significant restrictions (permitting, etc.). But I couldn’t get past this question: “Would I want even one chicken living next to me?” The answer is, “No.” And, with that, I wouldn’t want to ask others to live next to one either. This would be a different story if we weren’t such a densely populated community, where many residents live mere feet from their next-door neighbor. And then there is the question of enforcement. How would we enforce this? Would we at all? My guess is, we wouldn’t. The proper (or improper) keeping of chickens would be a complaint-driven process, as so many of our ordinances are. We don’t need more of that.

On pit bulls … I wish we had more time to give this issue the debate it deserves. I did some homework before the meeting, and we heard from several people for 30-45 minutes during the meeting before a vote was called. I had to vote — and I cast my mine to uphold the ban first passed more than 20 years ago because of precedent. Simply, our pit bull and vicious dog ordinance seems to be working, and I trust in the people who passed it decades ago – and the city staff experts who think we should continue it. Our city attorney also raised a good question several times to various speakers: “How would rolling back the restrictions make South Milwaukee safer?” I thought that was a good way to frame the debate, and with two young kids at home, that argument really hit me. I couldn’t see how taking that action would indeed make us safer. Of course, I’m open to new ideas, new information and approach on all issues, and I suspect this issue will come up again. If and when it does, I hope we give it the full and deep debate it needs. There are good points on both sides of the debate over “breed-specific” dog ordinances.

Among other actions taken Tuesday night:

  • The L&P Committee also agreed to increase many paramedic fees by 4.2%, in line with the medical consumer price index increases over the past two years. (We did not increase these fees in 2013.) Select Health Department fees will also increase 5% in 2014, among other small increases.
  • The council also approved a license for a new bar, yet to be named, at what is now Moran’s, 912 Milwaukee Ave. It is expected to open in December.
  • And we agreed to move ahead with a concept to rebuild 11th Avenue, between Milwaukee and Michigan Avenues, repaving the street and adding more landscaping and other features to make the street more appealing. This work, if and when funding is approved, will be done early in the season in 2014 — and will require the South Milwaukee Downtown Market to relocate for several weeks. Stay tuned.


Filed under City Council, South Milwaukee

19 responses to “Council Roundup: Pit Bulls, Chickens And More

  1. Michael C.

    On Chickens, I am very happy and relieved that this did not pass… As you stated, “would I want a chicken next door to me” ? No is my answer as well. Although I understand the issues of healthy eggs, chicken etc, this is a very close community as far as space goes. Chickens, and other “Farm” animals need to be on exactly that, a farm with plenty of room and not right next door to others that do not want the smell, noise, and costs due to the chickens needing to have permits and inspections…. Thanks….

    Pit bulls and other vicious animals…. No need to play with fire. I know all the pit bull lovers will all say “my Pit bull is not aggressive, nor mean”. HOWEVER……. My Shih Tzu can NOT rip out a child’s throat IF it happened to snap, you may get a heck of a bruise, but at least a life will not be lost to the attack. There are way way to many people that do not train THIER dogs as it is, let alone one capable of such damage when not properly trained and raised to be a “Gentle Giant”. I hear way to many times that after a Pit bull attack, “He’s never done this before, he was provoked by the child and just defended himself”. But it’s to late, damage was done and a child either gets left maimed or killed because of the owners neglect. I will take a small or medium sized dog barking (yapping) over a dead child.

  2. Diane

    I agree about the pitbulls.However there are pitbulls living here in our city and nothing has been done. It is not safe for me to go around the block with my pug and be safe. Been charged at by a few dogs in the past few years.(3) Grrrrrr…..

    • Michael C.

      Where a outs are the Pit bulls ? That’s not very safe. If I was charged by a Pit I would be quite perturbed by it and would have reported them as well as file a police report just in case they end up attacking either you or some child…

  3. Working parents of three

    Sad about the chickens. I was hoping that the city would allow this. I can’t say I’d mind if there were chickens living next door.

  4. Michael C.

    I understand that wants of some people, but the way I look at it is with just chickens, how much money can you save ? (After permits, feed, grain, housing, and time). As well as how healthy is it compared to a store bought egg from an organic store ? After the chicken has reached its usefulness on the “Farm” what do you do with the parts you don’t want ? Draw more raccoons then you can shake a stick at ill bet. But I can say I pretty much understand how both sides feel..

  5. Kim

    Another question to ask is Do I like to take away people’s rights to self-reliance and independence?

    • Michael C.

      About the chickens ? Self reliance? There’s a lot more work into raising the chickens than to go to the market for eggs…….

      • sm ok

        If I am able to provide the funding and do the work required to raise chickens,who are you to take my natural rights away from me. Who gave you the right to decide what I do on my little piece of land. I have a garden and shared the vegetables with my neighbors. I also spoke to my neighbors who had no objections to me raising chickens once I told them I would share what I have with them. It’s called being neighborly. Why would a person not want to be self reliant and independent rather than being dependant on other entities to provide you with food, shelter, and water? These are basic needs that each human should be capable of providing for themselves, and yet we have people in this community who want to take that right away. That’s not being very neighborly .

      • donald gerbing

        Not i have been raising chickens and they have been a blessing. They help me get up in the morning. Also the eggs are richer tasting. Night and day from store bought eggs

  6. Mike

    What about those that had chickens and pit bulls prior to the ordaniance? Do they now need to destroy these animials? Are their owners now criminals? Clearly this is the City passing judgement upon these residents and now calling them criminals.

    • Michael C.

      Chances are they will “Grandfather” them… However, I do believe that the Pit Bull odanance has been in effect for some time now… Most Pit Bulls don’t live that long, so they had to have gotten them after the ban…. Think about it…. Just saying…

  7. Lisa Pieper

    Pit Bulls and chickens have been illegal in S.M. For years. No one should have any to get rid of.

  8. Working parents of three

    “But I couldn’t get past this question: “Would I want even chicken living next to me?’ The answer is, “No.” And, with that, I wouldn’t want to ask others to live next to one either.” This quote has been bothering me since I read it. Being an elected official should be about representing your constituents.

    • Absolutely, I agree. And I strive to represent my constituents on all issues. I take that responsibility seriously. My reasoning here was if I feel this way about the issue, I am sure many others do as well. Do all agree with my vote, or any vote I take for that matter? Of course not. I think opinion is pretty much split on the issue of chickens. I had to vote one way or the other, and that question — the issue of not wanting to live near one, nor wanting to require another person to do so who may agree with me — was the way I chose to frame the debate.

  9. Michael C.

    No matter what Erik voted, half the people would be upset. You can’t please everyone all the time… I would say the reason is very simple…. This is a community that doesn’t allow chickens or pit bulls now, so, I am just following the precedent that has been set. Anyone that want chickens can very easily buy a FARM and have as many of the lil cluckers you want. I’ll be darned if the house I paid $250,000 for will have a chicken coupe next to it when I go to sell the house it drops in price because no one wants to live next door to 20+ chickens making noise! smells! and a mess. Farms are nice , if that’s what YOU want to do, why should we all suffer because YOU want to have good eggs and ….ummm…. Eggs…..

  10. annette

    How very ignorant of you. Otherwise you’d have read and lived enough to understand the animals are not the problem. Stop waiting for other people to help you understand. Use better judgment.

  11. Sean

    Hi Mayor Erik, has there been any discussion on the raising of chickens since this was voted on almost 6 years ago? I know Milwaukee county has an ordinance allowing up to 4 chickens (not roosters, as they are the the noisy, less neighborly bird and defeat the purpose of raising chickens for their eggs) with a proper permit. Even if the general ordinance is kept prohibiting chickens, do you think there is room for a waiver with approval from neighbors?

    • No, this has not been brought up again since the initial debate, and I’m not sure there is support to allow them, even on a waiver basis. I am on the fence on this one — I understand the value for some of raising chickens, but I am also concerned of neighbor impacts and, perhaps most importantly, enforcement. We already ask a lot of our overstretched Health Department, Police Department, etc. in enforcing our ordinances, and this would add one more thing to their plate.

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