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Election

ELECTION 2018: Ransom referendum to keep chickens, roosters on property passes

Randy Stillwell feeds his chickens in June 2016 at his Ransom home. Ransom voters approved a referendum Tuesday to allow chickens and roosters in village limits. Stillwell took the village to court two years ago when he was among three Ransom residents who received a letter stating they must remove their chickens in accordance with a village ordinance.
Randy Stillwell feeds his chickens in June 2016 at his Ransom home. Ransom voters approved a referendum Tuesday to allow chickens and roosters in village limits. Stillwell took the village to court two years ago when he was among three Ransom residents who received a letter stating they must remove their chickens in accordance with a village ordinance.

Ransom residents wondering if they can return to having chickens or roosters on their property can safely bring them back.

Residents voted on two referendum questions in Tuesday's election that asked whether chickens and roosters should be allowed in village limits. While chickens were welcomed with open arms with 81 in support of chickens and 29 against, the vote on roosters was closer with 59 in support of roosters and 51 against their inclusion in village limits, according to unofficial vote tallies.

The issue first arose a year ago when three residents were given letters asking them to remove their chickens in accordance with a village ordinance established in 1997.

Resident and Village Trustee Randy Stillwell declined to do so and took the village to court, stating his chickens were grandfathered in prior to the ordinance.

No evidence of Stillwell being grandfathered in could be found, and Stillwell was first found to have violated the chicken ban. That verdict was later thrown out when it was discovered a juror drove to the house during the trial, violating the judge's order against a private investigation.

A second jury found Stillwell didn't violate the ordinance and noted he had been allowed to keep the chickens for an extended amount of time after the ordinance was enacted.

The village wound up spending more than $6,000 in an effort to force Stillwell to rid his property of chickens.

Village President Matt Hauser said his original intent was to enforce all ordinances on the book and the ballot questions, which were added by village officials, were to clarify the public's desires.

"We felt it would be best to put it to the voters and let them decide," Hauser said in an interview last month.

The results of the election mean that Stillwell will be allowed to keep his animals on his property and others will now be able to house the animals as well.

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