Back yard chicken proposal doesn't fly in Lakeville

  • Article by: SUSAN FEYDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 12, 2014 - 8:56 PM
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A growing number of Twin Cities communities — including Minneapolis — allow chickens on residential property. Lakeville is not one of them.

Photo: KYNDELL HARKNESS • Star Tribune file,

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Lakeville won’t be joining the flock.

For the second time in three years, the city has rejected a proposed ordinance that would have allowed it to join the growing number of Twin Cities communities permitting back yard chickens.

At a City Council meeting last week, Mayor Matt Little appeared to be the only supporter of allowing chickens in residential areas. His motion proposing the rule change didn’t draw a second.

The council followed the lead of the planning commission, which last month unanimously recommended the council deny a request for an ordinance change.

In 2011 the commission had reviewed and rejected the need for a similar ordinance.

The proposal would have allowed no more than two hens, unlike most communities, which typically set the limit at four or five. The rules also would have required coops far larger than those in most communities and required people with chickens to pay $100 a year for a permit.

The commission and council members against the idea cited concerns over noise and odors and said chickens should be kept on land zoned for agricultural use. They reasoned that there is no need to allow chickens in residential areas because about 12 percent of the city is still zoned for agriculture.

“I don’t think the time is right,” said Council Member Kerrin Swecker. She and others said the need may change in the future as more agricultural land is taken up for development.

Planning Director Daryl Morey told the council that city staff also opposed allowing chickens. Calls and e-mails from residents also were against the measure by a narrow margin, Morey added.

Little said his feedback — including an online poll on his Facebook page — suggests widespread support. He also said that the ordinance would simply provide a mechanism for the city to enforce standards for an activity that already is taking place throughout Lakeville.

“People are going to have them anyway,” he said. “There are people not too far from me — I’m not going to say who they are — who have them in their front yard.

“There’s a guy with a goose! He’s legendary,” Little added. It wasn’t clear whether the mayor was referring to the owner or the animal.

No residents spoke at the council meeting. But several people who were at last month’s commission meeting voiced support of the ordinance. In addition to having a source of fresh eggs, some supporters said they wanted to keep chickens so they could teach their children about agriculture.

Lakeville’s rejection of back-yard chickens comes on the heels of Shakopee’s recent adoption of an ordinance permitting residents to have up to five hens in their back yards.

Like most communities that allow chickens, Shakopee’s new ordinance outlines several conditions, including rules on fencing and the size and location of coops and chicken runs. The ordinance prohibits roosters, and chicken owners are not allowed to sell eggs commercially.

A growing number of Twin Cities communities — including Minneapolis, St. Paul and numerous suburbs — allow chickens on residential property. Burnsville, Eagan, Farmington, Rosemount and West St. Paul are among the communities in Dakota County that permit them.

Shakopee’s neighbor, Savage, doesn’t allow back-yard chickens. But its City Council recently discussed the topic, according to City Administrator Barry Stock. He said it’s likely the council will approve an ordinance in August.

 

Susan Feyder • 952-746-3282

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