No bees or goats, but urban hens set to be allowed

Mayor responds to calls for chickens

Lakeville is poised to legalize raising chickens in residential neighborhoods.

Mayor Matt Little said he has received numerous requests from citizens who want to raise chickens in their backyards, and most Lakeville City Council members indicated support for the idea at their Feb. 24 work session.

Beekeeping or raising goats in neighborhoods, also requests the city has received from residents, were ideas quickly dismissed by council members during the Feb. 24 work session considering urban farming options.

Little proposed the city establish an ordinance permitting residential homes the ability to keep a maximum of two hens in backyard pens.

Council Members Kerrin Swecker and Doug Anderson agreed with neighborhood chicken-keeping, giving provisional majority support for an idea that had been discussed but rejected by the council several times in the past few years.

City Planner Daryl Morey said some residents want chickens to teach children how to care for a productive animal, others are looking for ways to save on grocery bills.

The council considered various regulations other cities like Burnsville and Farmington have enacted that define how and where urban birds are kept.

Burnsville, Farmington and Eagan have standards for minimum coop and run design standards, and they also require permits and regular inspections by animal control officers, according to the city.

None of the cities allow beekeeping on property that is not zoned agricultural.

Staff will review options and return this spring with a proposed ordinance for consideration.

Although city staff reported none of the nine cities with chicken ordinances that were reviewed have had problems or complaints from neighbors, Council Members Colleen LaBeau and Bart Davis were opposed to the idea for Lakeville.

Davis said farm animals do not belong in urban areas; LaBeau said chickens could cause conflicts with dog and cat owners, and did not support Lakeville police devoting time to manage issues that may arise.

Little said the policy should be strict enough so neighbors do not infringe on each other’s ability to enjoy their property.

He also emphasized that city code needs to identify the only chickens that would be allowed would be hens.

“No roosters,” he said.