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Backyard chickens approved for New London, Minn., resident

The New London City Council has approved a request from a resident to raise a small flock of chickens in his backyard. This undated photo was taken at a farm in the New London area. Tribune photo

NEW LONDON -- A New London man's request to raise a small flock of chickens in his backyard was approved on a 3-2 vote Wednesday by the New London City Council.

Under the conditions, Greg Rasner's flock of laying hens will be limited to four birds.

No roosters will be allowed.

This is the first time the City Council has agreed to allow chickens to be raised in the city limits.

Last year Mayor Bill Gossman sought the council's permission to obtain a permit to raise chickens. Following a public hearing his request was denied on a 2-2 vote.

This time around, Gossman got to vote on the issue

Gossman and Councilmen John Mack and Chad Kluver voted yes.

Councilmen John Bergman and Loren "Corky" Beck voted against the request -- as they did a year ago. Bergman and Beck contend allowing chickens in the backyard could result in more requests for other farmyard animals to be housed in town.

Rasner had surveyed close-by residents to get their opinions about having chickens in the neighborhood. He submitted signatures of support from eight neighbors. Only one objected.

"I'm pleased they're letting us do this," Rasner said. "We're really excited."

Rasner sought the permit so that his 3-year-old daughter can learn how to care for chickens and eventually have them as a 4-H project.

Rasner still needs to fill out an application and submit a site plan for where the coop will be located in his yard before getting the birds, and he'll have to pay a licensing fee of $30 a year.

He also has to build a small chicken coop, which may take most of the summer. He said he may not get the chicks until this fall or next spring.

Under the current city ordinance, a request to have live chickens in town is handled by the council on a case-by-case basis. That's how Rasner finally won approval.

On July 20 the council will hold a public hearing to discuss changing the city ordinance that would make it easier for residents to obtain a permit to have chickens.

The process would no longer require special approval by the City Council. Instead, the ordinance would set standards for having chickens in town as part of the city's animal control ordinance.

If the ordinance is amended, an applicant would fill out an application, provide a site plan, submit signed documents with approval from at least 80 percent of the abutting property owners and comply with the ordinance, which includes 19 separate provisions for how chickens must be housed and cared for.

The amended ordinance would "make it fair for everybody," City Administrator Trudie Guptill said.

She said she used chicken license requirements from the cities of Duluth and Shoreview as models for New London's document.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

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