The porker prevails
Persistence pays off for potbellied pig

By MITCH MAERSCH - GM Today Staff May 20, 2003
 

KEWASKUM - Score one for the porker. On Monday, the Kewaskum Village Board voted to amend a village ordinance to include potbellied pigs as pets allowed in the residential district.After a 3-3 vote May 5 failed to change the ordinance, Trustee Andy Pesch brought the issue back to the board and changed his vote to yes. Mondayís vote was 4-1 with Trustee Robert Stoltzmann excused."I do feel itís time we bring this matter to a close and I donít feel the people in the village have anything against a potbellied pig," Pesch said.There was little discussion on the topic two weeks after the board discussed the same issue. Thomas Piwoni maintained voting against changing the ordinance. Kevin and Steve Scheunemann and Board President Mathew Heiser maintained their yes votes.Scott Konzal and Greg Bernau, owners of Pi-G (pronounced pie-gee), let out a hog-sized sigh of relief after their nearly three-month battle with the village."That is such a good feeling," Konzal said after the decision.The issue, which was taken up by three governing bodies at one point or another, escalated to recall attempts of the three board members who voted no. Pesch and Piwoni were re-elected in April, however, and could not be recalled in their first year of a new term, leaving Stoltzmann as the only target."We would like to thank the board for their cooperation," Konzal told the board. "The recall will be ended and you can move on to more important things."Like licensing.The board determined to set a $7 license fee for potbellied pigs - the same as dog licenses, which was increased from $5 last fall.Bernau said the key was "just persistence and standing up for what you believe is right."The yard signs peppering Konzal and Bernauís property at 1434 Parkview Drive - including one that says "Keep the pig! Remove the board!" - will come down as well."There will be one more sign up but it will be a thank-you sign," Konzal said.There is no bad blood toward the board, both said."They did the right thing and there are absolutely no hard feelings. But when youíre in a fight you canít always be nice and you have to throw some mud around," Bernau said.Both were committed to taking their case to federal court. Village attorney Gerald Kiefer contacted Bernau and Konzalís attorney, Ted Johnson of Cedarburg, and asked how far they would take the case, Bernau said."At one point, they didnít think we were going to go this far," he said.Since late February, Bernau and Konzal had been trying to make the case potbellied pigs are pets and not livestock. Potbellied pigs are only raised to be pets and they are smaller than hogs raised for food.The United States Department of Agriculture has declared potbellied pigs as pets. Illinois and Iowa consider them pets as well but Wisconsin has not taken an official stance yet. Waukesha, Whitefish Bay and several other municipalities across the state allow potbellied pigs.Pi-G weighs 100 pounds, goes outside to go to the bathroom, does not smell, sleeps against the heat register and "is on a constant quest for food," Bernau said, causing a childproof lock to be put on the refrigerator door.Now, all the villageís potbellied pigs may come out of the oven. Trustee Kevin Scheunemann knows of two more in the village and Konzal and Bernau know of one."Itís held captive in the basement and taken to the vet in a crate at night," Bernau said.

The Pi-G saga
* Early 2003 - Village of Kewaskum gets two phone calls from residents asking if potbellied pigs are legal pets. Scott Konzal and Greg Bernau receive a noncompliance order due to their pet, Pi-G.
* Feb. 25 - Konzal and Bernau appear before the Kewaskum Plan Commission, which fails to make a motion to recommend the village board amend the ordinance to allow potbellied pigs in residential districts.
* April 15 - Board of Zoning Appeals decides Zoning Administrator Gordon Hoffmann was correct in determining potbellied pigs are not allowed in the village, according to the ordinance.
* April 19 - With the case already getting statewide and national attention, Konzal and Bernau, along with Pi-G, appear on Alan Eisenbergís "Ask Eisenberg" radio show in Kenosha.
* May 5 - Village Board votes 3-3 to amend ordinance to allow potbellied pigs in village; amendment fails.* May 15 - Bernau and Konzal begin recall effort against Trustee Robert Stoltzmann, the only trustee of the three who voted against amending the ordinance who could be recalled.
* May 17 - Konzal and Bernau again appear on "Ask Eisenberg."
* May 19 - Village Board votes 4-1 to amend ordinance. Bernau and Konzal vow to drop the recall effort and take down their yard signs.- Mitch Maersch


This story appeared in the West Bend Daily News on May 20, 2003.


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