Council talks turn to chickens

With proper controls through an ordinance, the city shouldn’t have a problem allowing chickens in residential zones.

That’s what Keith Streff, a senior Humane Society officer, told the Princeton City Council at its Aug. 2 monthly study session. The subject had come up after city resident Ashley Blasey requested, this past June 14, that the council pass such an ordinance.

The city currently allows the raising of non domestic livestock only in its A-1 and A-2 ag zones.

Requests to have chickens in back yards have become more frequent across the country in recent years, as more people want to raise their own food and know what has gone into it, according to a Minnesota League of Minnesota Cities consultant.

Blasey recommended a number of conditions in such an ordinance, including that there be a maximum of six hens, and no roosters, that there be an annual permit fee of $35, that chicken coops be clean and odor-free, and suggested other conditions.

The council instructed the city’s community development director Carie Fuhrman, to draft a proposed ordinance.

Streff informed the council about ordinances in the cities of New Hope, Robbinsdale, Shoreview and St. Anthony that allow a limited number of hen chickens.

New Hope does not require a permit but limits the number of chickens per property to four. Robbinsdale requires a permit if a place has more than two chickens and a hearing is required to get the permit. Shoreview allows chickens in a residential estate and single family  residential zones by permit, but only four chickens can be on any lot smaller than two acres. If the lot is larger, more than four chickens are allowed in that city with a conditional use permit.

St. Anthony, according to Streff, does not allow chickens within 500 feet of platted or inhabited land without city council approval. New Hope, Robbinsdale and St. Anthony do not specify the zoning districts for chickens, Streff noted.

Planning commission members discussed the idea of requiring 50 percent of adjacent homeowners to consent to someone having chickens on their property, Fuhrman noted. City attorney Dick Schieffer responded that requiring such written consent would not be legal.

Streff said there could be an option for allowing neighbors to give input though that is not a requirement for the ordinance.

Police Chief Brian Payne asked Streff about any law enforcement issues he had seen regarding chickens in cities. Streff answered that there have not been issues for any specific animals such as a chicken and that cities with regulating ordinances seem to be fine. It’s the older cities where there is no ordinance and a property has a lot of animals where it “becomes more arbitrary,” he said.

He also answered a question from Payne about the euthanizing of chickens, stating that it would be handled no differently than with any other animal.

Council member Dick Dobson asked Streff about the idea of banding chickens to keep track of the ownership of any loose ones.

Streff said he hadn’t heard of that being done anywhere, but has heard of cats and dogs having implanted microchips.

The most significant issue regarding fowl, Streff said, is where some people have arranged for cock fights, which are illegal. Prohibiting roosters would be a step toward preventing that, Streff said. Fuhrman said the planning commission is looking at an ordinance on keeping chickens that would involve either an interim use permit or a conditional use permit.