By Shereen Siewert

The Rib Mountain Town Board will make a final decision next week on whether to allow residents to keep chickens and other small farm animals on private property, following a public hearing Wednesday.

The public hearing was held during a meeting of the Plan Commission, whose members engaged in a nearly 90-minute session in which they heard from residents and discussed parameters for the proposed ordinance.

Earlier this year Rib Mountain resident Emily Ramthum submitted a petition signed by about 60 residents in favor of allowing chickens on residential lots, according to town documents. Some neighboring communities already allow such animals to be raised on private property. In Wausau, the city approved backyard chickens in 2017.

The Plan Commission discussed the matter on July 13 and recommended a public hearing before moving forward. Rib Mountain staff weighed in and is in favor of allowing chickens on residential lots, along with a change in the ordinance to include other animals that would have negligible impacts on neighbors, such as ducks.

The current code does not allow for these animals to be kept in Rib Mountain, which has an average lot size of more than 1/3 acre.

“The impact from this use on the neighbors would be negligible in most circumstances,” wrote Jared Wehner, Director of Community Development, in an agenda item cover sheet for Wednesday’s meeting. “Staff has vetted the draft language and believes that the ordinance is designed to be best suited for the town.”

If it is found to be a general nuisance, the code can be modified in the future, Wehner wrote.

The Rib Mountain Town Board will vote on the proposal on Nov. 16.