By Shereen Siewert | Wausau Pilot & Review

Village officials on Monday will decide whether residents in Weston will be legally allowed to keep chickens at their homes, following a 4-1 vote by the Plan Commission.

Keeping backyard chickens would require a change to the existing ordinance on farmyard animals, and was prompted by a request for a zoning code change in July by Ryan Cortright.

After Cortright’s application, the village sought feedback from residents through a survey on social media, on the website and in the September newsletter mailing, while working with a consultant to draft an ordinance based on comments and concerns brought forward. The ordinance draft also takes into consideration rules adopted by other municipalities including Wausau to ensure the rules are consistent, according to village documents.

Humane Officer Ashlee Bishop attended the Oct. 9 Plan Commission meeting to answer questions and address concerns about the new rules. Bishop, who manages enforcement and inspections for Wausau’s chickens, would also assume those responsibilities in Weston if the ordinance passes.

No roosters, only hens, would be allowed, and residents would be required to pay a $35 fee each year to own the birds.

While statistics are hard to come by, the American Pet Products Association national pet owner survey states that 12 million people in the U.S. now own backyard chickens.

The appeal of chickens is that, unlike most farm animals, they don’t need a lot of land, and once you get their basic food and shelter needs in place, they are pretty low-maintenance. Many breeds can handle cold weather without a heat source.

For your effort, you get eggs that are far superior to even the best organic ones on offer at the grocery, advocates say.

Village trustees will take up the matter during their regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16.