By Sue Moore
Chickens in a back yard in the village of Vicksburg? Not allowed, according to the current zoning ordinance.
But the village Planning Commission might consider a change.
The request of Kristin Richards-Capp and her husband Michael Capp, to raise up to six chickens in the back yard of their newly purchased home in the Hughey plat was denied by Police Chief Eric West. He cited R1 and R2 zoning provisions which do not allow farm animals in those zones. The couple then brought their appeal to the village Council in May. There, the decision was to send the issue to the Planning Commission for review.
“This issue has been on the back burner for the Planning Commission for the last three years,” Trustee Chris Newman remarked. As a member of the Commission, he promised to consider a change in the ordinance at the next meeting now that there is an active request.
Richards-Capp explained she wants her seven children to learn sustainability. “Kids are on their devices all the time. I want my children to learn responsibility by educating them on raising chickens,” she told the Council. “We only want up to six backyard chickens, no roosters and they would be contained. Portage uses MSU Extension guidelines and allows chickens.” She urged the council to consider the request following these guidelines.
VCAC Asks the Council for Financial Support
Syd Bastos, general manager of the newly formed Vicksburg Cultural Arts Center, made two appearances in front of the Council in May. In the first round, she asked for $75 per month or $1,000 per year from the council’s budget to help finance enlarged activities at the VCAC. She walked the members though the many benefits to the village the Center is providing with a progress report. “We now have so much going on in the artists’ gallery, and events staging that we need a little more financial help. We would like to include a visitors’ center service with extended hours on weekends and some evenings.” She cited the benefits that include a unified resource for all things going on in Vicksburg: increased artist participation, art shows and fundraising events being planned.
Trustee Newman requested more budget details and an hourly schedule, saying the request was rather scattered at this point.
Then, the unexpected happened.
Ken Schippers, village manager, spoke up to say how much he supported the VCAC endeavor. He promised to write a check for $500 out of his own pocket. Moments later, Bill Adams, village president; Gail Reisterer, trustee; and Jeff Rohrstaff, Angels Crossing golf pro, jumped on the band wagon pledging their support to the tune of $2,500 altogether. Bastos was speechless. She was back for the second meeting in May with a much more detailed budget and event schedule with a list of the benefits and the tools to make it all happen. And she couldn’t stop expressing her gratitude for the great support.
Update on Filling Village Manager Position
Chris Newman, also a member of the council’s human resources committee, recommended a move forward with Jim Mallery, assistant village manager, taking on a larger role working with Schippers to learn the ins and outs of being village manager. “We would like to hire from within, while just trying to understand how to proceed,” Newman said.
Trustee Ron Smith warned “this would be a trial by fire for Mallery. By going to all the meetings we can see how Mallery performs and if he really wants to do this.” President Adams said, “The job would not be posted although we have a transparency concern.” Trustee James Earl recommended a time frame of 90 to 120 days as the earliest date to consider final approval of the position.
Taking Care of Village Water
Water quality is a concern for the council; Schippers is the only person in village employ to have taken the DEQ test to become a water operator. Two of his Department of Public Works employees are currently studying to take the test in November. In the meantime, Schippers has volunteered to return un-paid, during his retirement to monitor and take care of the water system.
Police Car Repainting
Mallery reported that a change in lettering on the village’s police cars will take place in June to make sure the community has a visible fleet of cars as part of his work with the police department. He is also in the process of negotiating the police department’s employee contract which comes due the end of June.