|/7/2013 3:36:00 PM|
Council Says No to Raising Chickens In the City Limits
by Dan Ruud
The Belle Plaine City Council Monday night voted 4-1 to deny petitions by two families to raise chickens in their backyards within the city limits.
Making the requests were Philip and Amanda Denzer at 821 Sunrise Lane and Ben and Olivia Aronson at 425 North Meridian Street.
“My wife and I have two young children,” wrote Philip Denzer in a letter to the city. “We would like to teach them how to be self-sustaining. We currently raise a vegetable garden and can tomatoes and salsa as well as some other vegetables. We would like the city’s permission to raise chickens (hens only) in our backyard to provide us with fresh eggs and teach our kids about animal care, responsibility and where their food comes from.”
Denzer’s letter went on to explain that they want to build a chicken coop behind their shed. The yard is fenced and the existing 10- by 12-foot shed “would neatly tuck the coop away in the backyard.” He added that they don’t plan to raise more than four chickens.
However, chickens by law are considered farm animals and farm animals are not allowed in the city limits other than those areas zoned (A-2).
“A resident must petition to the city council an exception to this regulation,” reported City Administrator David Murphy. “An exception shall only be granted upon review and approval of the city council. Such exceptions will only be granted upon findings that public safety will not be compromised by such an exception.”
Council Member Scott Schneider asked Police Chief Tom Stolee if raising chickens in the city limits would be a public safety issue. Stolee did not give any public safety examples but did say that it could lead to nuisance/noise calls from nearby property owners.
Council Member Cary Coop was in favor of tabling the issue until more information can be obtained about waste disposal and other potential health and safety issues regarding chickens.
Mayor Mike Pingalore said he was opposed to allowing any type of farm animals to be raised within the city limits and said he was ready to vote now. Council Member Gary Trost agreed.
“I’m opposed to this,” Trost said. “People want chickens so they can teach their children where eggs come from. The next thing they’ll want are cows so they can show them where milk comes from.”
Coop, who was opposed to denying the requests until more information can be obtained, accounted for the only yes vote.
Neither of the applicants making the requests were in attendance at the meeting, which did not help their cause.
In other business Monday night, the council unanimously approved the hiring of Allison Barrineau and Kris Moloney as part-time officers for the Belle Plaine Police Department. Their pay will be $14.50 per hour. No benefits are paid to part-time police officers and they do not work a scheduled shift. They are utilized to cover vacation and sick time and work during special city events.
*Unanimously appointed Trevor Latzke (full-time) and Bob Stier (part-time) as seasonal employees with the Belle Plaine Public Works Department. Stier will earn $15.78 per hour and Latzke $13.50. Latzke and Stier, along with two other seasonal employees proposed to be hired soon, will assist with the upkeep of parks and other city properties this spring and summer.
*Unanimously accepted the resignation of Michael Dominy from the Belle Plaine Design Committee. Dominy was the recipient of a certificate of appreciation for his four years of service to the committee, including three as chair. Staff reported that it will advertise for candidates to replace Dominy.
*Unanimously authorized the public works department to purchase a replacement cab for the city’s front-cut 1445 mowers. Public Works Superintendent Al Fahey reported that employees use a cab on the front-cut mowers in the winter to remove snow, and that the cab is due for replacement. The replacement cab will cost $5,350, minus $1,500 for the trade-in of the old cab.
*City Administrator David Murphy reported that the city’s application for the Safe Routes to School (sidewalks trails) grant was not successful.
*Unanimously approved the vacation of a drainage and utility easement as requested by the city. The easement was dedicated in the plat of Valley Business Park, which is no longer needed due to the replat of the property as Valley Business Park Second, which includes the city’s new public works facility and a nearly six-acre parcel that is being marketed by the city for development.
*Unanimously approved pay request No. 1 by Chard Tiling and Excavating for $225,186 for work on the 2013 street and utility improvement project.
*Unanimously approved a large assembly and road closure permit for the June 21 (Community Cookout/classic car show and band) and June 22 (German Day). The 100 block of North Meridian Street will be closed from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. on June 21, and from noon to 2 a.m. on June 22. The 100 block of West Main Street be closed from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on June 22.
The next regular meeting of the Belle Plaine City Council is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday, May 20 in the City Hall building at 218 North Meridian Street downtown.
Street Improvement Work Progressing
City Engineer Joe Duncan reported the construction on the city’s 2013 street and utility improvement project is rapidly progressing.
“The contractor (Chard Tiling and Excavating) began work in late April and has been able to dedicate enough resources to have a significant amount of the underground utilities completed as well as a solid start on street building,” Duncan reported. “The favorable soils in the area have also played a role since precipitation. Most residents have been quite positive and cooperative thus far. Continuing at this rate, the goal of completing this project by Bar-B-Q Days should be achieved.”