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December 14, 2011 | 07:46 AM
LYONS TOWNSHIP — If the chickens come home to roost, they'd better be roosting on land zoned Ag 1.

Ordinance Control Officer Andy Makar told the Lyons Town Board on Monday that during the past 30 days there were several complaints by residents that their neighbors were keeping chickens.

Town of Lyons is very rural, and keeping chickens might not seem unusual, except that the town is under county zoning, and county zoning regulations say that chickens are not allowed in residential subdivisions or other areas zoned residential, Makar said.

Chickens are allowed only on property zoned for agricultural, or ag, use. Ag 1 is the highest agricultural use under county zoning.

"I'm not against chickens per se," said Town Board Chairwoman Joy Bartelson. On the other hand, county zoning doesn't allow chickens in residential areas, she said. Trying to raise chickens inside a house doesn't help, either.

If they're discovered, it's not only a zoning violation, it's a health hazard, Makar said. As an ordinance control officer, Makar, a former Walworth County sheriff's deputy, has the authority to issue citations.

However, he doesn't actively go out hunting chickens.

Makar said he acts only if there is a complaint.

What it comes down to, if you upset your neighbor, your neighbor can report your chickens, Makar said.

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Makar said he doesn't know what caused the spike in residential chicken sightings.

"Maybe in these tough economic times, people are relying on these chickens for eggs," he told the Town Board.

Makar suggested, and the board agreed, that the town enforcement should be light handed.

He recommended a warning to residents that their chickens don't belong in residential areas.

Persons keeping chickens in residential areas face a citation and fine of between $25 and $100, Makar said.

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