Council says no to coops in Little Canada

Though it had requested in late August a draft ordinance allowing chickens to be kept in the city, the Little Canada City Council voted against adopting the ordinance at its Sept. 14 meeting.

Chicken-allowing ordinance voted down

Though the Little Canada City Council heard a convincing case in late August for allowing at least one resident to keep pet chickens in the city, at its Sept. 14 meeting it decided to maintain the status quo.

The council voted 4-1 against adopting a narrowly drafted ordinance that would have allowed chickens to be kept by residents who live on lots five-acres or larger, among other requirements.

Current city code prohibits Little Canada residents from keeping anything that might be considered a farm animal, chickens included, in order to maintain the community’s “suburban, non-agricultural character,” as stated in the code.

A prospective Little Canada homebuyer, who keeps 12 chickens, wrote the council requesting some sort of change or amendment to the code allowing her to move into a currently vacant home on a large lot, while retaining her birds.

The woman, a veterinarian whose chickens are rescues and kept as pets, told the council Aug. 24, “I don’t really support urban chickens and the backyard chicken movement.” She suggested any code changes allowing chickens should be written to allow only well-informed people to keep poultry in the city.

While the council members agreed the woman was one of the well-informed and a likely model chicken-owning citizens, they still voted against the proposed ordinance — a sticking point cited by many was that the five-acre or larger lot requirement only applied to five properties in the city.

“We’re making [the new ordinance] for five people?” Mayor John Keis asked skeptically, as the council began to discuss the proposed amendment. 

“It’s the equivalent of spot zoning for me,” said council member Tom Fischer, saying shortly after, “At this point in time, I’m not willing to support an ordinance for chickens in the city.”

Council members said the majority of feedback they received on the issue was against allowing chickens in the city. 

Council member Rick Montour said he would need a “groundswell” of residents interested in keeping chickens before he’d consider altering current city code.

Enforcement was another issue — beyond the resources needed to enforce the chicken city code, council member Michael McGraw said he was against putting the onus on neighbors to report their neighbor’s nuisance poultry.

The lone vote in favor of the chicken ordinance came from council member Christian Torkelson.

“I think I want to encourage some urban agriculture and some sustainable measures,” he said, noting that he would have been in favor of allowing people with smaller than five-acre lots to keep chickens.

Though Little Canada city code has long prohibited chickens and other fowl to be kept in the city, City Administrator Joel Hanson said that over the years, there have been plenty of reports of illicit birds.

There have been complaints about roosters crowing, chickens roaming yards, and at least one pigeon coop in Little Canada, Hanson said, along with reports of a small flock of ducks that was purposefully allowed to live inside a private home.


Mike Munzenrider can be reached at or 651-748-7813. Follow him on Twitter @mmunzenrider.





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