A Burnsville boy who pleaded with the City Council to let him keep his pet chickens is likely to get some bad news tonight.
After his family was told by a city official that the chickens had to go, Stefan Remund, 11, asked the council to reconsider. Now, after researching the issue, city employees are ready to recommend that the city's animal ordinance remain intact -- which could mean goodbye to Pudd'n Legs, McCluck and the four other Plymouth Bard Rocks and one Buff Orpington that lay eggs for the Remund family.
When you're 11 and the city is deciding whether to take away your pets, a kid might not be thinking lofty thoughts, or even logical ones.
But Stefan, who has already gotten the news that things aren't likely to go his way tonight, is still ready to offer an impassioned defense of his birds, which the family raised from chicks.
"They're afraid that everyone is going to want to have chickens," Stefan said. "We're exceptional. I don't know anybody in the neighborhood who wants to have chickens. I think there's going to be a select few. Burnsville is a 62,000-person city. I don't think a ton of people are going to spring into it."
At the council's behest, city employees reviewed ordinances of surrounding communities and Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth. A memo says in part:
"Of the ten cities researched, six do not allow chickens in residential zoned areas. The four that do allow them do so with restrictions to the number, the type of enclosure, and in two cases (Minneapolis and St. Paul) require a permit and consent of 75 to 80 percent of the surrounding neighbors."
The staff is recommending that council members "make no changes to the current ordinance because it is similar and in some cases less restrictive than the surrounding cities."
Meanwhile, Stefan has offers from farmers and other kind people who would care for the chickens, set up a visiting schedule and even collect eggs for the Remunds.
Stefan's plight has become a cause célèbre for people who raise backyard chickens in the Twin Cities, and the family has received hundreds of supportive e-mails and calls.
After a neighbor complained about noisy chickens, an animal control officer arrived to check out the Remunds' back-yard coop on Sept. 10. Stefan's mother, Jen Remund, tearfully told the officer she wouldn't get rid of the chickens. The officer advised her to contact City Hall.
Burnsville's ordinance was enacted several years ago after concerns were raised about back-yard chicken operations being a way to spread a lethal form of bird flu, should it ever hit U.S. soil.
"There's a reason why we passed this ordinance in the first place, for the health of the city of Burnsville," said Council Member Charlie Crichton. "If the council thinks there's not a health problem and we can change the ordinance, that's fine. But I don't think we can make an exception."
The Remund family loves their chickens' eggs, which are brown, except for those of the family's Buff Orpington, named Marilyn Monroe, which are speckled. Stefan said his hens' shells are tougher and the yolks brighter, and he appreciates getting his breakfast from birds that are loved and fed well.
"I used to like eggs from the store," Stefan said. "Now they're just bland and white."
Stefan said the council should honor the cultural practices of its new immigrants, including those who want to keep fresh chickens to kill for religious dinners.
"America was founded under the purpose that all cultures and people could live under liberty and religious rights," Stefan said. "This is a country that welcomes all kinds of people and cultures to come here, to be free. And why stop their culture?"
Joy Powell • 952-882-9017
We apologize for the inconvenience.