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Council sets Oct. 1 hearing on amended animal ordinance for city of Willmar, Minn.

WILLMAR -- The Willmar City Council is proposing a revised animal ordinance that would prohibit the keeping of chickens in certain areas of the city and would regulate the keeping of pigeons and rabbits.

The proposed ordinance would replace an existing section of municipal code with clearer, more objective language for governing the keeping of animals within the city limits.

The public will have a chance to comment on the proposed ordinance at a hearing Oct. 1. The date was set by the council Monday night.

The council pursued a change to the animal ordinance to eliminate subjective decision-making and to create clearer standards for keeping animals. City Attorney Robert Scott has said the current ordinance lacks objective standards for issuing animal permits.

Bruce Peterson, city planning and development director, recommended the council introduce the ordinance for a hearing. The proposed ordinance was also supported by the Community Development Committee.

The proposal would allow chickens only in areas zoned agricultural or industrial and no more than 50 chickens could be kept.

The ordinance would prohibit roosters in all zoning districts.

In addition, the ordinance would allow no more than 30 pigeons and no more than 6 rabbits in the city.

Dogs and household cats are regulated elsewhere under other city ordinances.

During discussion, council member Steve Ahmann asked if city staff has received any comments from the public regarding the proposed ordinance. Peterson said neither he nor any of his staff has heard anything. Ahmann said he has not received any comments.

In other business, the council approved a Public Works/Safety Committee recommendation to hire Bollig Inc., of Willmar, at a cost of $85,585 to provide engineering surveying services. Bollig will be handling some services that had been performed by an engineering technician/surveyor who resigned this year.

City officials requested proposals from firms interested in performing the services and received three proposals. Bollig had the lowest cost. The scope of work includes preliminary surveying this fall to complete final plans in early February for 2013 construction projects.

The scope of work does not include essential daily operations, survey data for in-house engineering design, construction inspection, locating property corners, utility locates and data collection for the city's state storm water discharge permit.

The possibility of filling the vacant technician position will be brought to the Labor Relations Committee for discussion, said City Administrator Charlene Stevens.

In related business, the council voted to hire the firm of Bolton and Menk of Willmar to provide interim city engineering services until a new city engineer/public works director is appointed to replace Holly Wilson who resigned last week.

Three engineering firms submitted proposals and Bolton & Menk was the lowest at $60 per hour. Some of the tasks performed by the city engineer require a civil engineer and professional engineer's license.

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