Neighbors not crowing about chicken permit

Council rejects woman’s application, but she can re-apply within a year

A resident’s request for a city chicken-keeping permit was rejected by the Stillwater City Council Tuesday after council members said the issue with the request seems to center on people rather than birds.

Stillwater resident Kaytee Nesvacil sought council approval of a chicken-keeping permit after six of her neighbors wrote letters opposing the permit after they received the required city mailing informing of Nesvacil’s permit application.

“I was really happy that the chicken law passed. I had chickens for quite some time and I didn’t’ get a whole lot of feedback, nobody noticed them,” she said. “I had four outside and no one noticed them, so I was really super sad and mad when I heard the neighbors say they wanted me to get rid of my chickens. I think a lot of it is that they’re mad at my children’s friends. They’re (her children) not as assertive as they could be with their friends, and I thought that maybe if I stood up for my chickens it would teach my kids to be more assertive with their friends.”

Development Director Bill Turnblad said Nesvacil’s planned chicken coop would fit the ordinance parameters with some minor changes and includes five chickens and no rooster.

“This seems to be a people issue and not a city issue based on the number of people involved in this,” said Councilmember Doug Menikheim.

“I personally don’t agree with this ordinance. I said it to begin with and I’ll still say it, chickens belong on farms and not in cities,” added Councilman Mike Polehna.
“I see the other side of the coin in this argument. Other people are involved in this and this is not our issue. We need to decide the problem with people in her area, and from what I’ve seen in the letters, there seems to be some fence mending that needs to go on,” Menikheim added. “I don’t want us to be here to adjudicate issues between neighbors.”

“I agree with that discussion, but this is one of the first actions of neighbors against it and that’s part of the reason we built this in. Personal issues or not, we just received a lot of letters against it and I’d side with the procedure. In absence of any other evidence it seems that a lot of the people that object are right around her,” said Mayor Ken Harycki.

Councilman Ted Kozlowski said if Nesvacil’s application meets all permit conditions, he feels she should be able to keep her chickens.

“A lot of the things written in these letters aren’t about chickens. Thank God we don’t have to build decks that way,” he said.

Menikheim’s motion to deny Nesvacil’s permit without prejudice passed 4-1 with Kozlowski dissenting. Although her permit was denied, Nesvacil can come back within the year and re-apply for the same permit. If she does so, the city would mail another set of notices to Nesvacil’s neighbors.

Contact Avery Cropp at avery.cropp@ecm-inc.com

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