Eagan to allow backyard chickens
New ordinance amendment to allow five chickens on residential property
By the end of this month, Eagan homeowners will be able to raise chickens in their backyards thanks to an amended city ordinance.
On Oct. 16, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance amendment to allow residents to raise a few chickens on residential property. Mayor Mike Maguire and Council Member Cyndee Fields were absent.
“This will be educational for the families who have chickens, and for that reason I support this,” said Council Member Gary Hansen, who grew up on a farm that raised chickens and other animals.
The decision is welcome news for Eagan resident Barb Harpster, who plans to raise a small number of chickens in her backyard.
“I’m very glad we are joining other cities in allowing chickens,” Harpster said. “They’re great for organic gardening.”
Harpster, who grows a variety of heirloom vegetables and flowers, noted that chickens provide natural pest control and fertilizer.
“The educational value to my kids is wonderful,” said Harpster, who has two children. “It’s a great way for them to learn about animals and responsibility.”
The issue was brought to the City Council in June by some residents who challenged the city’s current ordinance prohibiting chickens and other farm animals in nonagricultural areas.
The amendment, which is set to go into effect Oct. 26, allows residents to raise up to five chickens in the backyard of a single-family home. Residents will be prohibited from raising chickens at townhomes or apartments, and will be prohibited from keeping roosters on residential property.
The amendment also prohibits the slaughter of animals and the sale of eggs on residential property.
Backyard chicken owners will be required to have fences to keep the birds within the property and to “reasonably” match the exterior of the chicken coop to the home’s finish.
The amendment requires chicken coops to have a 10-foot setback from property lines and a 25-foot setback from dwellings.
Residents are required to obtain a $50 permit, which can be revoked if the owner fails to comply with requirements of the ordinance or of the homeowners’ association. Residents will be required to have their property inspected to obtain a permit and a renewal. The permit fee is consistent with the city’s fee for pigeons on residential properties.
Council Member Paul Bakken suggested that city officials examine lowering the permit fee in the future if feasible.
Chickens won’t be allowed in homes or garages due to health concerns.
According to the University of Minnesota Extension, which studies agricultural issues, humans can contract bacterial and respiratory infections by keeping chickens in their living spaces. Though Avian flu is a common concern, there are no cases being transmitted from birds to humans in the United States, according to the U of M Extension.
Although residents will not be required to inform their neighbors before acquiring chickens, Bakken encouraged people to work with their neighbors out of courtesy.
Eagan’s amendment is consistent with chicken ordinances in other cities. To date, 14 Minnesota cities have adopted ordinances allowing small numbers of chickens in residential areas.
Although most neighboring cities don’t address coop space for each chicken, Eagan’s ordinance will require coops to have a minimum of 2 square feet of interior floor space for each chicken.
This isn’t the first ordinance change to allow new pets within Eagan. The council previously amended an ordinance to allow pet pigeons in residential backyards.