Backyard chickens ruffle feathers in Winfield | Latest Headlines

WINFIELD — It’s still to be decided whether a small flock of chickens owned by a Winfield family will be allowed to stay home to roost.

The Winfield Town Council on Tuesday is expected to resume discussion of a variance request from Derek and Rita Van Tickelt to raise 15 chickens at 6528 E. 114th Place in the Prairie Crossings subdivision.

The Board of Zoning Appeals, which met earlier this month, gave a no recommendation to the Town Council

Jennifer and Shawn Menear, the owners of a home adjacent to the Van Tickelt’s asked the Town Council to turn down the request.

Jennifer Menear said she and her husband bought their lot and had their custom home built in Prairie Crossings in 2006.

“We wanted to be in a subdivision. We didn’t want to be on a farm,” Jennifer Menear said.

Town Councilman Dave Anderson, who asked earlier this month for a deferral, said he and the rest of the board and its legal counsel need more time to study the issue.

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That’s because the Menears handed each of the council and staff a copy of a statement issued from the Kelly Law Offices they have retained.

It said the Menears object to granting the requested use variance for a number of reasons, including the Van Tickelt family’s total property, including an adjacent lot, is 4.14 acres in total and a hobby farm requires 5 acres.

It also says raising chickens is a violation of the subdivision’s covenants and the chickens have attracted unwanted wildlife including raccoons.

Derek Van Tichelt, who earlier this month requested a variance to conduct a hobby farm on a residential property under 5 acres, said his family began raising chickens in their back yard during COVID-19.

“We did it as a hobby. My wife and kids love them. The chickens are just added pets,” Van Tichelt said.

Van Tichelt said there were no problems with any of his neighbors — most of whom were happy to be the recipients of the eggs they were gifted — until earlier this year.

That’s when his neighbor’s dogs on two occasions got into their garage and killed their baby chickens.

“It’s not the dog’s fault,” Van Tichelt said.

Van Tichelt said he didn’t file charges against his neighbors, but that’s when the town’s code enforcement officer discovered the chickens.

The enforcement officer told Van Tichelt he wasn’t in compliance with town codes because his two combined lots are 4 acres so under the necessary 5 acres required to be classified as a hobby farm.

Jennifer Menear said the Van Tichelt’s chickens roam around that property and the Menear’s dogs go crazy.

“We’re in a neighborhood. I worry it will happen again,” Jen Merear said of the two incidents.

Renee Brooks, another neighbor of the Van Tickelt family, previously said she has no problem with the chickens.

“I think the ordinance is outdated. Chickens are very popular across the country. I’m in favor of keeping the chickens,” Brooks said.

Currently, Winfield Town Code only allows residents to have chickens if they have a hobby farm.

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