Chickens OK’d in certain city zones

The Stillwater City Council decision to allow residents to keep chickens in specific zones of the city as long as neighbors are notified about the birds some ruffled feathers Tuesday.

The ordinance allows chickensin the RB and RA zones of the city that include the old city as well as Croixwood and Oak Glen. Liberty and Legends were excluded from the ordinance as those developments are designated in different zones. City Attorney Dave Magnuson advised that limiting chickens by zones is a legitimate practice for this ordinance.

“My problem with the whole deal is that we’re rewarding someone who’s thumbed their nose at the city and they’re neighbors. They’re a farm animal and they don’t belong in the city and it’s bad policy on our part to reward the people who are doing this.” said Ward 4 Councilman Mike Polehna.

“I don’t think we’re rewarding bad behavior, we’re trying to legitimize and enforce a practice that exists in our community” said Ward 2 Councilwoman Micky Cook. “If we have standards we have expectations about chicken coops and can enforce them.”

“The problem comes when people lose interest and that’s when the real problems will occur as the coops fall into disrepair,” said Ward 3 Councilman Jim Roush.

Polehna also said city needs a notification system for neighbors. Both Ward 1 Councilman Menikheim and Cook agreed that a notification system was a good idea.

The ordinance includes a notification system similar to the recent beekeeping ordinance. Persons keeping chickens are required to have a permit. Notifications are mailed to those living within 150 feet of the property of the proposed chicken coop. Those objecting to the chickens would get 10 days to appeal a request and would not be charged the $50 that usually accompanies an appeal. The council will hear any complaints and make decisions. If there are no complaints the permit will be automatically approved.

“ I think we have a solution,” Menikheim said. “I don’t want to force things down your (Polehna) wards throat and if the city attorney’s told us we can limit by zones I say we do that and everybody lives happily ever after.”

Mayor Ken Harycki moved to approve the changes of allowing chickens in the RA and RB areas of the city, excluding Liberty and Legends and adding the notification clause.

The vote was 3-2 with Polehna and Roush dissenting. The ordinance will be in effect by the end of the week.

Also at Council:

  • A proclamation making next week fire prevention safety week was given
  • Parking citation prices will increase from a $5 fine to a $15 parking fine for the first offense.
  • An $85,000 donation was made to the city to fund biking projects for the city by the Collins family. $60,000 will be used for a pagoda near the Brown’s Creek Trail. $20,000 will go towards bike racks  and an information center about the Brown’s Creek Trail.