Beloit College Magazine

Beloit College Magazine

Fall/Winter 2012 (November 16, 2012)

Pecking Away at a Chicken Ordinance


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November 16, 2012
By Beth Hanson’12

Chicken (CHICKEN!!!)Chickens may be laying fresh eggs in backyard Beloit coops soon, largely because of a collaboration of Beloit College alumni, students, a faculty member, and Beloit citizens who call their organization “Beloit Backyard Chickens.”

Melissa Grevsmuehl Stoltz’04 and her husband, Carl Stoltz’07, have been involved with the movement for several months. The group has been advocating by attending city council meetings, collecting petition signatures, running a Facebook group, and occasionally holding events like a screening of “Mad City Chickens,” about backyard laying chickens in Madison, which have been allowed since 2004.

“We get a lot of questions about chicken-keeping in general, which are legitimate concerns,” Grevsmuehl Stoltz says.

The group’s biggest priority was working on the Beloit City Council ordinance that would allow residents to keep up to four hens. Mark Spreitzer’09 and Sheila DeForest’90 currently serve on the city council and provided assistance in preparing the ordinance.

“We’ve wanted chickens in our yard for a long time,” Grevsmuehl Stoltz says. Now they have their chance—on Sept. 17, the Beloit City Council passed the ordinance. Starting Jan. 2, Beloit citizens residing in single-family dwellings will be able to apply for a permit to keep up to four hens (no roosters) in their backyards.

“There was certainly healthy disagreement on the council the entire time, but I think a majority of us were open to the idea from the beginning, especially because so many other cities have adopted backyard chicken ordinances,” Spreitzer says. “This was brought forward by a diverse group of residents and their efforts brought us to this point. I was pleased that we could be responsive to this idea.” The council voted 5-2 to pass the ordinance, with Spreitzer and DeForest voting for the measure.

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