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Permit backed for raising birds in Howard

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – Property along Riverview Drive used as a game farm where deer no longer are being raised received backing Monday, May 20, from the Plan Commission for a conditional use permit to raise birds.

The village first received complaints about the birds last winter.

Community Development Director Dave Wiese informed the commission about pheasants and ducks being discovered in pens where a permit was previously issued only for raising deer with no other animals specified.

“Our code enforcement department then told the applicant on the subject property that they needed to get a conditional use approval,” Weise said.

The property has mixed residential zoning with R-1 (Single Family) and R-5 (Rural Estate).

Wiese said a conditional use permit would be required in those districts for agricultural use.

“If you look at the definition of agriculture (in the village code), it meets this definition,” he said.

Todd Garrity, right, and Kelly Naud appear Monday, May 20, before the Howard Plan Commission to seek a conditional use permit for raising birds on residential property along Riverview Drive. Kevin Boneske Photo

Todd Garrity, who appeared before the commission to seek the permit, said birds had been relocated from the Island Court area to the property along Riverview Drive because of the Interstate 41 expansion.

Garrity said the game farm had been put in place for the Bay Port FFA, and he was surprised he needed another permit to raise birds there.

“I thought this was all done back in (2006),” Garrity said. “I’m kind of shocked that we’re back here doing this again.”

A nearby property owner, Dan Tonnon, also spoke at the public hearing in favor of granting Garrity the permit.

“I’ve been aware of this since he started it,” Tonnon said. “We’ve never had any problems with anything that he’s done.”

Another neighbor, Mike Williquette, said he sold Garrity land to extend his pens, and he doesn’t notice the birds are back on the property.

“You can’t hear them or nothing like that,” Williquette said.

Two others at the hearing raised concerns about flooding in the area as well as the noise from peacocks being kept on the property.

Garrity said in response he has kept the bird pens away from others’ property, while the flooding isn’t from a well on the property, which has been shut off since the ice melted with the water level being high.

“I didn’t raise the Great Lakes, either,” he said. “Everything’s getting high. I can’t help it. (The well has) got nothing to do with it.”

The village’s animal control officer, Monica Hoff, said she observed the birds from a nearby property and, from what she could she, they looked healthy.

“I have no complaint or concern in terms of the welfare of the animals, per se,” Hoff said. “For me, it was purely (looking into the matter) as code enforcement. Is the zoning correct… which brings us to tonight for the conditional use.”

Mike Soletski, a commission member who noted he lives near the property where the birds are kept, said he would rather hear the peacocks than the sound of a train in the area at 3 a.m.

He also said the high water in that area of the village isn’t because of a well.

Commission members unanimously recommended approval of a permit for 10 years to raise birds with the conditions village staff contact Garrity and also review with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources what is required in the permit as far as the handling of waste, such as if he will have to have a holding tank.

Garrity will also be required to have the proper property identification or an easement to operate a game farm on the property.

The commission’s recommendation is being forwarded for final approval at the village board’s meeting June 10.

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