City close to hatching chicken ordinance

The city council could be letting the chicken out of the egg at its next council meeting regarding a proposed chicken ordinance.

The ordinance, which the council introduced  for potential passage last Thursday, would allow the keeping of chickens in the city of Princeton’s R-1, R-2, and R-3 residential zones through an interim use permit process.

The city currently only allows the raising of non-domestic livestock in the A-1 and A-2 agricultural zoning  districts.

But resident Ashleigh Blasey of 414 7th Ave. S. requested in June that the city pass an ordinance to allow a limited number of hen chickens in the city’s residential areas. Blasey explained that she would like chickens for supplying fresh eggs, providing fertilizer for her garden and eating unwanted insects and grubs. City staff members said having chickens in yards  is a growing trend in various cities.

The council responded by sending the matter to the city’s Community Development Director Carie Fuhrman and the planning commission to research what is done in other cities. City Attorney Dick Schieffer also weighed in, as did a humane society official who was visiting Princeton during the summer.

Schieffer noted that while some cities have a chicken ordinance requiring permission from  neighbors within a certain distance, that is not legal. While a city can have neighbors give input, a neighbor can’t tell someone they can’t have chickens, Schieffer said.

The humane society official had recommended that any ordinance use a permit system so that if a resident should violate permit conditions for having chickens, the city would only have to revoke that permit and not discard the whole ordinance.

The proposed ordinance has the following conditions:

• An interim use permit would be required for keeping chickens in the A-1, A-2 and A-3 zones.

• A maximum of four chickens would be allowed per permit.

• Chickens would be allowed only on single family home lots.

• Only chicken poultry would be allowed — no roosters.

• Outdoor slaughtering and chicken fighting would be prohibited.

• Chickens would have to have leg bands with identification of property owner including address and telephone number.

• A separate coop would be required to house the chickens and coops must meet certain minimum standards outlined in ordinance.

• A run or exercise yard enclosed by fence would be required.

• All food would have to be stored in an enclosed, rodent-proof container.

Council member Thom Walker asked if the council couldn’t set a sunset date on the proposed ordinance such as a year, so the council could then act on whether to continue it. That would make it know

n that this would be a “test case” in the city, Walker said. Walker later added that “a lot of people are pretty nervous about having chickens around.”

But having an ordinance like this sunset in a year could create problems because then anyone with chickens would have to all of a sudden get rid of them, Mayor Jeremy Riddle said.

City Administrator Mark Karnowski responded that the city could put a reminder on file to get a report in a year after passing the ordinance as to how it has been working.

Council member Dick Dobson answered that the planning commission decided that the city would deal with any issues coming up as it responds to any complaints about anyone having chickens in their yard.

Hallin asked how the city regulates other animals. Dobson answered that a resident must license their cats and dogs.