Spring means it’s chicken approval season for the St. Anthony City Council

At its last two meetings, the St. Anthony City Council has approved a number of requests from residents to keep chickens.

Before a request at the May 22 meeting, council member Thomas Randle asked St. Anthony City Planner Breanne Rothstein if there were anymore chickens in the “pipeline.’

She said requests for chickens and animals in general are expected in the spring though, at the moment, there are no more chicken requests. 

Rothstein did note there was an uptick in chicken requests this spring — she said that last year she recalls around three chicken requests compared to six for this year. Earlier this year the council approved a permit request for goats to be used for invasive plant species control at Nativity Lutheran Church. 

Rothstein provided a reminder of St. Anthony city code, which prohibits people from keeping swine, cattle, horses, goats or fowl — including chickens — without council approval. 

The request at the May 22 meeting was for four female chickens to be kept in a six-foot chain link fence that is 25 feet from any other structure. In the presentation by city staff, the resident said they spoke to their neighbors and they support the chickens. Mayor Jerry Faust said he would take the resident at their word without checking in with neighbors. 

The request was unanimously approved. 

“I guess it proves that council member Randle and I are not against chickens, it’s just the number,” said Faust, referencing a request from the May 8 council meeting that asked for council approval of six chickens, with the flexibility for keeping 10. That request passed by a 3-2 vote, with opposition coming from Faust and Randle. 

“This is pushing some limits” said council member Randy Stille of the 10-chicken request at the May 8 meeting. He said the city code is “rather archaic” but that he can’t entirely fault it because it allowed the council to easily approve a goat request. 

“10 chickens? Six chickens? I don’t know what the right limit is,” said Stille, adding he’s concerned about setting a new precedent beyond six birds.

Council member Hal Gray said he’d like some time reserved to revisit the ordinance and set chicken request limits and guidelines for people to follow. 

“Seems to be that that’s about the fastest growing part of the population right now,” Gray deadpanned. 

City Manager Mark Casey said revisiting the ordinance would be added to the planning commission’s work plan. 

“I think we need to go slow before we go fast,” said Faust. “I will not vote for 10 [chickens].”

The 10-chicken-requesting homeowner said she is an experienced keeper and requested the flexibility for 10 birds because of natural population changes, like chickens that stop laying eggs or get eaten by hawks or racoons. 

The request, which passed, was not the only one at the May 8 meeting  — a different request for six female chickens was unanimously approved. 

 

— Solomon Gustavo

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