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Kohler traditions and municipal codes refresher series

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One of the attributes that has traditionally made the Village of Kohler unique and attractive to newcomers looking for a place to live or visit has been the pride Village residents take in their properties, their community, and their school system.

Kohler was founded as a model company town and was one of the first planned communities in the United States. When the Village of Kohler incorporated in 1912, Walter J. Kohler Sr. called upon the Olmsted Brothers firm to create a 50-year master plan for the Village. The Olmsted brothers were the sons of Frederick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect who had designed Central Park in New York and Stanford University’s campus, among many other projects. Frederick’s sons, who would eventually forge their own significant legacy, finished Kohler’s master plan in 1916. The type of planning that went into the Village at that time was considered cutting edge. Most cities had no plan or ordinances to manage growth, which led to much of the urban sprawl and lack of cohesion seen today in many places.

In 1977, a second 50-year master plan, this time developed with the guidance of The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, was completed. Environmentally  sensitive community development was one of the primary themes of this new plan.

Throughout its more than 100-year history, Kohler has enacted ordinances that help maintain its “model company town” appeal. As a new generation of home buyers and renters make this unique Village their home, many may be unaware of the ordinances and long-standing community traditions that have spanned the decades and set the Village apart.

As space allows in upcoming issues, The Kohler Villager will publish a series of articles summarizing Village ordinances and traditions, beginning with the most popular (or unpopular, depending on one’s perspective). All Village ordinances can always be viewed by visiting the Village website at, and clicking on the “Ordinances” button.

In this edition, we will cover pet dogs and cats:

Anyone who owns, possesses, harbors or keeps a dog or cat, which has attained the age of five months, must obtain a license for each pet for a fee of $5 for all neutered male or spayed female cats or dogs and $12 for all unneutered male or unspayed female cats or dogs. Any cat or dog that is not licensed may be impounded and could be destroyed according to Wisconsin Statutes. Prior to issuing a current dog or cat license, the applicant must show proof that the dog or cat has a current vaccination against rabies. The penalty for failure to obtain a license is $10.00 for each unlicensed animal in addition to the regular license fee.

Restraining regulations.
Dog and cat owners must keep their pets exclusively on their own premises by personal and direct supervision, such as by voice command, or keeping the animal on an appropriate chain or tie no longer than 15 feet in length; or by keeping the animal in an enclosed yard – either walled or fenced – including by underground electrical fencing. When taken off the premises, the cat or dog must be kept in an appropriate retaining enclosure, or be restrained by a substantial leash or chain not exceeding six feet in length in the hands of the person directly controlling the movement of the cat or dog.

Power to seize.
Anyone is empowered to seize, distrain or impound any dog or cat running at large in any prohibited area and turn it over to the Village police.

Number restrictions
No one living in the Village may keep, own or harbor more than two cats and dogs over three months of age. To exceed two cats or dogs, the resident must first obtain the written approval of adjacent residential property owners located within 100 feet of the residents’ property line and obtain a waiver of the number restrictions from the village board.

Pets are prohibited on the private property of others, except in cases where the presence of the pet is with the express consent of the owner of the premises or party in control of such premises.

Animals considered a danger to the health and welfare of the community by reason of attacks made on persons or on other animals as determined by the police chief are prohibited. Violators could be charged anywhere from $30.00-$90.00, plus court and other costs or penalty assessments made applicable by law.

Any person owning or having control of any animal shall clean up any feces of such animal immediately and dispose of it in a sanitary manner.

The keeping of any animal which causes frequent or long continued noise and disturbs the comfort or repose of any person in the vicinity is prohibited.

See article about the next upcoming Village tradition here

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