Two families in Cottage Grove known to be keeping ducks and chickens in their back yards in violation of a city ordinance have won a reprieve for their animals -- for the moment.

The Cottage Grove City Council last week heard a recommendation from its Planning Commission opposing a change in the city ordinance that allows poultry and other farm animals to be kept only on city lots that are 5 acres or larger.

The commission's recommendation, on a 6-2 vote, had come at the request of the City Council last November. It meant the non-complying birds would have to go.

But City Council Member Derrick Lehrke suggested that a more thorough study of the issue and a clear policy decision be made. The council agreed, and a recommendation could come in March.

Cottage Grove is just one of many Twin Cities communities grappling with the issue as back-yard poultry and other farm animals grow in popularity in urban areas.