Council passes first reading to stop deer feeding
The Fairfield City Council passed the first reading of an ordinance to prohibit feeding deer in the city limits.
The ordinance lists 20 devices and 36 kinds of bait specific to deer that will be prohibited. The list of illegal devices includes hanging buckets, ground-mounted capsule feeders and electronic feeder units. The banned substances list includes mineral rock, sugar beet juice, liquid corn-infused attractants and “Whitetail Apple Obsession,” among others.
Section 2 of the ordinance states it is not intended to restrict fruit trees or food plots for human consumption nor to restrict feeders designed for birds or small rodents such as squirrels and chipmunks.
Councilor Connie Boyer said the ordinance grew out of the council’s desire to limit the deer population in the city without opening a deer hunting season, which she said would have been too controversial.
“Apparently, some people feed the deer, and it encourages them to come within the city limits,” she said. “From one standpoint, the deer are beautiful and we love to see them. From another standpoint, they are creating a lot of damage.”
Boyer heard from one homeowner who told her a deer climbs her deck to eat her flowers.
Boyer said she still had reservations about the ordinance, particularly with the punishment for feeding deer, which would become a misdemeanor.
City Attorney John Morrissey said he went through several hunting catalogues to create the list of prohibited deer baits and devices. He said he did not want to include in the list any feeder a deer could eat from but instead wanted to ban feeders unique to deer.
“If you have hanging ears of corn in your backyard where squirrels and birds are going, but deer are also, is that a deer feeder? I don’t think so, unless someone has a bale of corn there,” he said. “Believe me, this list represents about 18 pages of attractants and devices from catalogues.”
Morrissey said several things deer like to eat were left off the list of prohibited baits because they are eaten by animals other than deer.
“People who have apple trees aren’t ‘deer feeders’ but believe me, apple trees are deer feeders,” he said. “People who have garden plots in their backyards probably aren’t planting them as feed plots for deer.”
Councilor John Revolinski was not convinced the ordinance was necessary. He said the city does not actually know if people are even using the kinds of deer-specific bait the ordinance would ban. He said he would support a resolution asking residents not to feed deer but he was uncomfortable supporting an ordinance to that effect. Councilor Martha Rasmussen said she agreed with Revolinski.
Councilor Michael Halley said the reason the ordinance was created was because the police brought the problem to the council’s attention. He said deer are a serious problem in the city and the council has to do something to reduce their number.
The first reading of the ordinance passed on a 5-2 vote. Revolinski and Rasmussen voted against it. Halley, Boyer, Tony Hammes, Jessica Ledger-Kalen and Daryn Hamilton voted in favor of it.
In other business, John Kuster addressed the council about his plan to remodel the former Nelson Nursing Home on Taylor Avenue and turn it into an apartment complex.
Kuster said he is not sure how many apartments will be in the new complex, although he is hoping for 20. He said he will have to perform extensive repairs to the inside of the building and fix a few things on the exterior as well. He plans to do the work this summer and open the apartment complex by Jan. 1.
Kuster appeared before the council to request it rezone the property from R2 to R3. He said he must rezone it because of the number of people who will be living there after it is renovated.
The council voted 7-0 to approve the first reading of an ordinance to rezone the property from R2 to R3.
A few residents spoke at the podium about their worries regarding the proposed renovation. Residents were concerned the apartments would bring more traffic to the area. The building is located in the 800 block of West Taylor Avenue. Some residents were also worried Kuster would turn the building into subsidized housing.
Kuster said he had no plans to turn the building into subsidized housing. He also said he expected the level of traffic to be lower than when the building was used as a nursing home. He said the former nursing home had more than 40 employees, and the building was visited regularly by semis unloading supplies and by friends of the home’s residents. He said there is plenty of off-street parking so his tenants will not park on the street.
Kuster said he plans to meet with the neighbors to discuss the project in greater depth once his architect has finished the plans.
“We want to alleviate any concerns they have,” he said.