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Revised ordinance proposal would prohibit raising chickens in residential zoned areas in Willmar, Minn.

WILLMAR -- Raising backyard chickens in residential zoned areas would not be allowed under a revised animal ordinance the Willmar City Council is asking City Attorney Robert Scott to prepare.

Raising chickens in agricultural or industrial zoned areas would be allowed, however, and the number would be limited to no more than 50.

Besides prohibiting the raising of backyard chickens in residential areas except as specified, the proposal would limit the number of backyard pigeons and rabbits that may be kept per property.

The language of the proposed ordinance would revise an earlier proposal suggested by the city attorney to set standards for the first time for permitting the raising fowl, pigeons and rabbits.

The city attorney has said the current ordinance lacks objective standards for issuing animal permits. The earlier proposal had recommended no more than 10 chickens per residential property, but that standard will be eliminated as a result of negative feedback received by council members.

The council on Aug. 6 sent the first version back to the Community Development Committee for more discussion.

In the latest version, the committee is recommending that raising fowl in residential areas be prohibited.

The number of allowable backyard pigeons would be reduced from 60 to 30, and the number of rabbits would be cut from 10 to 6.

The council received the committee's recommendation and voted Tuesday to direct the city attorney to prepare a new ordinance for a public hearing at a later date.

City Administrator Charlene Stevens said the hearing date will be set after the attorney drafts the ordinance.

The committee agreed that premises currently licensed for chickens will be allowed to retain the chickens until the current licenses expire.

During discussion, council member Doug Reese requested staff to clarify that there are a few homes located in industrial areas. Staff said one home in particular near West Highway 12 is located in an industrial zone and has received a permit for many years to raise chickens.

In related business, the council denied an application from Frank Johannes to keep three chickens at 801 Fifth St. S.W. The denial was recommended by Police Chief David Wyffels and the Public Works/Safety Committee.

The chief's duties include recommending or denying fowl permits to the council's Public Works/Safety Committee. The committee then recommends approval or denial to the council. The council can then approve or deny the permit.

Reese, committee chairman, said Johannes has knowingly violated the city ordinance by raising chickens without a permit and has been issued a citation to appear in court on the matter.

Reese said the citation was prompted by a citizen complaining of noisy roosters at the residence. In checking the report, Wyffels found that Johannes had not been issued a fowl permit.

In other business, the council approved the preliminary plat of Mills Second Addition, located north of the Mills Ford, Lincoln, Chrysler, Dodge, RAM and Jeep dealership on the west side of U.S. Highway 71 South.

Mills Properties of Brainerd is platting three lots for development of a car dealership, car wash, future convenience store and developable lot.

According to Bruce Peterson, director of city planning and development director, the utilities and storm water retention calculations and ponds were completed and are designed for Mills Properties' ultimate build-out, including a Mills Fleet Farm store.

In other business, the council set the preliminary 2013 city property tax levy at $4,232,734, up $240,000. The entire levy increase is proposed to be designed for public works infrastructure, according to Denis Anderson, Finance Committee chairman.

Anderson said the effect on property owners would equate to an approximate increase of $25.47 per year on a $115,000 home.

The council approved a committee recommendation to schedule a public hearing Dec. 3 on the 2013 budget of $34,974,785 and levy.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150