Blaine, which has seen a rapid increase of neighborhoods and shopping centers in recent decades, could soon return to its farming community roots — one chicken at a time.
The City Council is expected to vote next week on an ordinance allowing backyard hens (roosters not permitted). If the ordinance passes, residents would be allowed to raise up to six hens starting in September.
Once home to many sod farms, Blaine “never really permitted” residential zoning to allow poultry, said Bryan Schafer, the city’s planning and community development director.
“It hasn’t been an issue for decades,” Schafer said. “But as cities have contemplated and come forward, residents have asked the question, ‘Why can’t we?’ ”
In the past year, several residents have asked the City Council to reconsider the ban after neighboring Circle Pines and Centerville changed zoning laws to allow residential chickens.
Jason King, council member from the Third Ward, said residents want “chickens as pets,” and fresh eggs for themselves and neighbors.
When King went door-knocking before being elected, a resident spoke with him at length about allowing chickens in her backyard.
“We had a long conversation about it and she educated me,” King said. “It seemed like a great thing to me. It was something I brought to the council. I thought it was a great idea and [it] seemed like something we can support.”
Andrea Kish-Bailey runs a Facebook page called “Underground Chicken Movement in Blaine MN,” which has been encouraging residents to send supportive letters to the council.
The Kish-Bailey family moved to Blaine three years ago from Coon Rapids, where they illegally raised Charlotte, Big Red and Twilight.
“We loved raising our chickens; they were easy to hide in Coon Rapids, but it’s harder in Blaine,” Kish-Bailey said.
And for her three children, “we like teaching them where food comes from and it’s fun collecting eggs,” she said.
When the family moved to Blaine, she started talking to residents about “their stance” on chickens.
“Jason King has been very supportive and there’s people living in his ward who are interested,” Kish-Bailey said.
King, who doesn’t plan on having any chickens, said he believes about 25 residents already have chickens in their yards.
“I wish more cities did it. Chickens are quiet, chickens are clean,” King said. “This is a good thing for the city.”
Minneapolis and St. Paul allow backyard chickens. Coon Rapids and Andover have discussed the issue, but no consensus has been reached.
The ordinance will set a size requirement for the coop and registration fees. Currently it says the coop must be 5 feet away from a neighbor’s yard; neighbor notification is required, but permission is not needed; and the city will enforce the ordinance by neighbor complaint.
So far, residents’ feathers have not been ruffled by the new ordinance.
“We haven’t heard any negatives, but some people think it’s silly,” Kish-Bailey said. “I don’t think everybody will go crazy with chickens. And obviously people who already have chickens will be happy.”