Woodbury, MN Poultry Ordinance Issue - Sept 2010 Update

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by Engteacher, May 19, 2010.

  1. Engteacher

    Engteacher Poultry, Poetry, and Prose

    Sep 1, 2009
    Hastings, MN
    This just appeared in the South Washington County Bulletin:

    Chickens spur review of Woodbury animal ordinances
    Two Woodbury residents say their four exotic-breed chickens are pets, so should be allowed in a residential area.
    By: Scott Wente, South Washington County Bulletin

    Two Woodbury residents say their four exotic-breed chickens are pets, so should be allowed in a residential area.

    John Stewart and Whitney Harris said they reviewed city code before obtaining their four sultan chickens and could not find anything indicating the birds are banned in town.

    City officials say Woodbury’s ordinances prohibit poultry from urban areas, but the language is not clear so they want to make it easier to understand.

    The Woodbury Planning Commission will be asked to review a clarification of the city’s animal ordinances in the coming weeks. “It’s clear to us,” Woodbury senior planner Melissa Douglas said of the ordinance, “but it’s not clear to a lay person.”

    The city is not considering allowing chickens for non-agricultural uses, Douglas noted.

    Stewart and Harris, who live in the Carriage Farms neighborhood, want that reconsidered. They said chickens like theirs should be treated like dogs, parrots or other domestic pets.

    “They have names,” Stewart said. “They come to us when we call them.”

    The chickens, including two roosters, are kept in a small building and are allowed to roam in a fenced-in yard just 30 minutes a day, Stewart said, adding he is aware of just one neighbor couple opposed to the chickens. Three people e-mailed the city in opposition, complaining particularly about the roosters’ noise.

    The city has given Stewart and Harris two ordinance violation notices, Douglas said.

    Harris said he was doubtful that the Planning Commission would recommend allowing chickens in residential areas.

    Commission Chairwoman Nancy Remakel’s assessment at a Monday hearing was in line with Harris’ prediction. Remakel said she grew up on a farm.

    “This is a farm animal,” she said.

    Tags: daily updates, local news, woodbury
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2010

  2. Whitewater

    Whitewater Songster

    Jan 18, 2010
    Are you one of the individuals keeping chickens mentioned in the article? It sounds like you have a fight on your hands if you want to change Woodbury's mind.

    Do you know when they're going to meet to discuss this clarification? If it's a meeting that's open to the public, you may want to show up, politely, and bring with you some educational material about not only chickens as pets, but about the growing (hrm, there has to be a better word than trend . . . ) urban chicken keeping movement, and the differences between an urban backyard flock and what people traditionally think of as a farm type situation -- because there is one. It's the same difference between barn cats and pampered inside cats, or working farm dogs versus a teacup Yorkie. I really think that small urban flocks are vastly different than farm chickens, but you kind of have to be an urban chicken affectionado or owner to articulate that difference to somebody who doesn't get it, like most of Woodbury's city council, apparently.

    My advice would be to agree with them that the law needs to be clarified (obviously, there's been a miscommunication!) then to help them do it. Also ask them to read your educational materials (there are lots of good ones out there, believe me, do your research!), and ask them to take the small step of just being willing to listen to your point of view -- and nothing else, not yet. Make sure to make it very clear that you're not asking them to change the law right away. You want them to get a bit more open minded, get them on your side. After all, you didn't think you were in the wrong -- the city officials need to see that you're not doing this deliberately, and that you're willing to work with them.

    A good compromise for right now might be to ask them just to educate themselves about the growing urban chicken movement, and then to work with them to clarify the law. You don't want to come across as hostile hippie rebels -- the city council needs to see that you're just like they are, trying to keep a beloved pet after you found out you made a mistake. Wouldn't they do the same if they had a pet they loved? They'd try to do their best to keep it, right? You need to find a way to get the city council to think of you as real people, instead of 'the enemy'.

    You're probably going to have to give up your roosters, unfortunately. I know for a lot of cities, roosters were the sticking point.

    Education is the key, and compromise.

    Good luck!

  3. ecohybrid

    ecohybrid Hatching

    Mar 9, 2010
    I am interested in the outcome. Please post any dates and times for public meetings on the topic. I may be able to rally some supporters. [​IMG]

  4. Engteacher

    Engteacher Poultry, Poetry, and Prose

    Sep 1, 2009
    Hastings, MN
    Me? No. I live in Denmark Township, so I'm free and clear of this conflict.

    Last year Hastings' Planning Commission recommended adopting a new ordinance that would have allowed hens in the city as long as the home owner had signatures from all the neighbors, paid $30 for a permit, and kept the birds contained at all times. The city council voted against the recommendation but allowed a variance for schools and historical sites like the LeDuc Mansion.

    I'll be watching this issue in Woodbury, though, since Hastings was all abuzz with the attitude that chicken ownership would somehow cement the stereotype that Hastings is a "hick town," whatever that means.

    I'll keep an eye on the newspaper and update you as news appears.
  5. theFox

    theFox Songster

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    "Commission Chairwoman Nancy Remakel’s assessment at a Monday hearing was in line with Harris’ prediction. Remakel said she grew up on a farm.

    “This is a farm animal,” she said."

    So are dogs and cats.
    Last edited: May 20, 2010
  6. Engteacher

    Engteacher Poultry, Poetry, and Prose

    Sep 1, 2009
    Hastings, MN
    Here's the update from the StarTribune.

    Woodbury combs through, amends animal rules

    The city joins a growing list in the metro to wrestle with the question of whether certain animals should be banned.

    Last update: September 18, 2010 - 7:07 PM

    Woodbury has joined a growing list of suburbs confronting a question ruffling feathers across the Twin Cities: Should chickens and other animals considered livestock also be considered as pets?

    At a meeting earlier this month, the City Council voted 5-0 to amend ordinances governing animals to clarify, among other things, that chickens and other farm animals are not pets and therefore aren't allowed in areas of the city not zoned for agriculture.

    "The purpose of these changes is really to delineate the keeping of animals as pets and the keeping of animals for business purposes, such as kennels, or for production, such as livestock," said Melissa Douglas, the city's senior planner. The intent is not to add restrictions to pet ownership, she said, but to make clear what is and isn't allowed.

    The amendments are partly in response to a zoning code case involving a couple in a residential area about a mile north and east of City Hall. The couple was keeping a few chickens and contended that city ordinances don't explicitly say chickens are banned.

    "I'm from a small town, and if you wanted to have these types of animals, you lived on a farm or had some kind of acreage. And if you lived in town, you didn't have these kinds of animals," said Mayor Bill Hargis. "It really wasn't an issue back when I was growing up."

    White Bear Lake, Eden Prairie, Golden Valley and Bloomington are just a few of the cities that have dealt with chicken-related issues in recent months, weighing the interests of owners who enjoy them as pets or a source of eggs and neighbors who may not welcome them. The League of Minnesota Cities is researching the issue in response to requests from across the state.

    While the Woodbury council approved the clarifying amendments, members also said they would revisit the issue at some point in 2011.
  7. denim deb

    denim deb Chirping

    Sep 15, 2010
    I don't know about other areas of the country, but around here, many people will buy their kids baby bunnies, ducklings or chicks at Easter time as pets. So, if they're buying them as a pet, how can they be considered live stock. And as for the noise, they're not any worse than parrots, yet no one tries to get them banned as pets. [​IMG]

  8. Arcnadius

    Arcnadius Songster

    Aug 1, 2010
    Western WI
    Apparently, Woodbury has forgotten its roots (or it's trying hard TO forget) because not more than 20 years ago, most of that city was farm land. Your development is even called Carriage FARMS. Sounds like the snobs have moved in. I'm on your side, but the wrong side of the river. Good luck! [​IMG]
  9. northerncitychickens

    northerncitychickens Hatching

    Sep 20, 2010
  10. mygreenlife

    mygreenlife Hatching

    Oct 7, 2010
    I second the comment that Woodbury has forgotten it's roots (like most suburbs these days). I grew up there - lived there before there was even a gas station. I remember when SA went in and then McDonalds! I used to hang out at the FARM across the street from the high school. Sad to see this news from my old hometown.

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