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August 2014

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New Lisbon livestock law allows animals

Plan Commission proposal amended on 2-1 vote

Town of Lisbon - "When you are making decisions by committee, you often wind up with a three-humped camel."

That is how Town Administrator Jeff Musche summed up nearly 19 months of negotiations over a proposed new ordinance regulating the keeping of livestock in residential neighborhoods in the town.

However, the new zoning code - which passed on a 2 -1 vote Monday night - did not include camels. If you want a camel in the Town of Lisbon (one hump or two) it will have to be approved by the Plan Commission.

But you can keep honeybees and raise chickens on lots of less than one acre, provided you do not live in a platted subdivision.

If you live in a platted subdivision, you must have at least three acres before you can raise livestock or chickens under the ordinance.

By the way, billy goats are out.

Kelly Heinritz butted heads with town officials over the prohibition of billy goats. She suggested there was no rational reason for excluding them.

"The Plan Commission said they didn't want male goats because they had issues," she noted.

"All unneutered male animals have issues," she said, while smiling at the three male town supervisors.

Kelly's daughter Hannah began the debate over livestock and fowl in the town nearly two years ago at an annual town meeting.

The Heinritizes live on five acres near Highway Q and have few livestock restrictions.

But Hannah questioned town officials about the rationale behind a livestock code that limited the number of some animals but not others and prohibited the raising of chickens on lots of less than three acres.

Hannah and her father, Ken, said the newly drafted ordinance was an improvement over the existing ordinance, but they argued it is still too restrictive.

They questioned why the Town of Lisbon, a predominantly rural community, would impose livestock restrictions on nonagricultural lands that are stiffer that the codes in New York, Milwaukee and Madison.

The Heinritizes have argued that there should be objective reasons behind regulating livestock in nonagricultural neighborhoods in the town. They suggested that the limitations should be based on the weight of animals and the amount of manure they produce, rather than subjective concerns voiced by town officials and residents.

The Town Board, on several occasions, had rejected drafts of new ordinances recommended by plan commissioners who argued that some residents objected to allowing their neighbors to raise too many of some species of livestock. A subcommittee spent months of discussion on the draft code presented to the board Monday.

Town Chairman Matt Gehrke explained there were a number of factors that went into the subcommittee decision, and he supported the proposed ordinance change.

However, Supervisors Ryan Lippert and Joe Osterman said they wanted to relax the proposed restrictions on raising chickens on lots of less than on acre in lots not included in a platted subdivision.

"I am the one who hears the most complaints, and there are people who live in subdivisions who do not want chickens next door," Gehrke argued.

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