Couple’s chicken permit doesn’t lay an egg with council

The Stillwater City Council approved the city’s first chicken permit request Tuesday night.

“So far we’ve issued four permits to keep chickens without any problems,” said City Development Director Bill Turnblad said. “To date in this case, courtesy notices were sent out to their neighbors within 150 feet of their home and we have received two objections.”

One was from Nile Kriesel, who wrote that he believed chickens would be a nuisance and expressed concerns that if the chickens were not properly raised and treated, would be a “hazard to ones health.”

Turnblad said Colleen and Chris Gregg, who sought the permit, plan to meet all city specifications although a small change must be made in the size of the coop. The Greggs’ request came to council for action because of the neighbors’ objections. The permit is valid for two years.

A neighbor of the Gregg’s, Bruce Claussen, came to support them.
“I’ve lived next to the Greggs for four years. They’re good neighbors and I have no doubt that if any problems arise with their chickens they’ll take care of it,” he said.

The coop will be placed adjacent to a shed and garden area near the back of the Gregg’s property.

“If chickens are such a good idea, why put it so far away,” Councilman Tom Weidner asked.

“We opted to use the shed area because there is a garden area near there. I would use the chickens to take care of bugs and those nuisances and we thought it would be best if we could include it all together,” said Colleen Gregg.

“Urban farming is a growing trend. There are cities around us that are adopting chicken resolutions and there were 18 people involved in this process,” said stillwaterCouncilman Doug Menikhiem. “With 18 people involved and two people against it I feel like that’s democracy and majority rules.”

He liked that the concerns were acknowledged and asked the Greggs if they’d make themselves available to the council to have a review of how the process is going. They agreed.

“We’ve researched and planned for this, we’ve gone to a class, and we’ve gotten our plans approved by the city. I wanted to let you know that this is not a whim,” Chris Gregg told the council.

“Philosophically I don’t think chickens belong in town,” said Councilman Mike Polehna. “That’s why I’m voting against it.”

The permit was approved by a vote of 3-2 with Polehna and Weidner dissenting. The Greggs are expected to come back in a year to talk with council about how things are going.

Council also approved a contract with Kraemer & Sons to give them access to a barge terminal as a staging area for the construction of the pier foundations the St. Croix River Bridge Crossing project was approved. The barge terminal, according to City Administrator Larry Hansen, is also shared by Andersen Corp. and he said he’d figure out a way to work out the usage between the two parties to benefit both. Kraemer & Sons would pay the city $2,857 a month and would use it from May 2013 to June 2014. Hansen said depending on the impact the usage has on Andersen, rent of that space may need to go down for them.