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Remote Meetings, City Hall Hours, and Chickens Discussed at Marshfield Common Council Meeting

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021 -- 11:00 AM

(WDLB) -Marshfield aldermen are asking for something in writing pertaining to remote participation in city meetings.

The Common Council voted 10-0 last night directing city staff to draft a policy allowing for virtual attendance. City Administrator Steve Barg told the Council the city's current municipal code is silent on the issue.

Alderman Quentin Rosandich had asked at the end of the July 13th Council meeting that the topic be brought up for discussion last night. Alderman Rebecca Spiros, who as of late has regularly attended meetings from a second home out of state, said the practice of attending remotely should be allowed to continue.

Alderman Tom Witzel, who for the past 18 months has regularly worked remotely from home, said he personally wants to be at as many meetings in-person as he can, but also sees the benefits of attending virtually.

There has been lots of remote attendance by both city staff and elected officials in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, but regular in-person attendance has been "the norm" for most for nearly a year.

Also, City Hall in Marshfield will close at noon on Fridays for a one-month period starting next month, under a pilot program approved by the Common Council. Marshfield aldermen voted 7-3 last night in favor of the proposal.

City Administrator Steve Barg said the program would stretch from August 13th through September 3rd. Alderman Ed Wagner joined Tom Buttke and Peter Hendler in voting "no". Alderman Adam Fischer was all for it.

Barg said city hall would continue its regular hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. He will report back to the Council September 14th on how the pilot program worked.

Finally, nearly a year after it was shot down for a second time, Marshfield aldermen will once again discuss a proposed ordinance allowing residents to raise chickens within city limits.

The Common Council last night directed city staff to draft an ordinance that would allow for a certain number of chickens on residential property. Development Services Director Josh Miller told the Council the city recently updated its zoning codes which make owning and raising chickens even more restricted than before. Alderman Adam Fischer said it's an issue he hears a lot about.

Alderman Mike Feirer, who voted in favor of the issue when it first came up over a decade ago, said he's against the concept now. Feirer says he has seen other cities struggle with the concept, and Marshfield is just asking for problems.

Alderman Tom Witzel said a chicken ordinance could be a way to make Marshfield more appealing to a younger generation. The proposed chicken ordinance has come up before.

In 2010, the Sustainable Marshfield Committee presented a proposed ordinance that would have allowed Marshfield residents to have up to four chickens.

The Council rejected that ordinance in 2011 on a vote of 6-3. A request to place the item on a Council agenda in March of 2019 was ultimately pulled. And when the issue was brought back in August of last year, the Mayor asked for questions from the Council, and when there were none, the discussion ended.

Wausau, Stevens Point and Wisconsin Rapids already have similar ordinances.


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