Hen

An ordinance change would allow up to five hens in Chaska backyards.

Chickens are one step closer to crossing the road into Chaska backyards.

Chaska resident Kristen Bartley proposed an ordinance change to the City Council on Monday allowing up to five hens in homeowners’ backyards.

“An increasing number of us are interested in living more sustainably,” Bartley said. “Backyard chickens allow us to reduce our carbon footprint by producing some of our own food.”

She said just over 200 people signed an online petition to change the city’s current ordinance, which does not allow chickens.

The changes would include allowing up to five hens, no roosters, an enclosed weather- and predator-proof coop, no slaughtering on the property, and guidelines on where the coop could sit.

Chaska Mayor Mark Windschitl said the council is open to the idea and will be communicative about next steps. The council met with a livestock expert from the University of Minnesota at a work session, coming several years after a similar proposal was taken off the table.

“We’re going to move forward and see what things will look like as we move into the next step and just kind of go from there and see what’s next,” Windschitl said.

“I just look forward to see. I won’t make a guarantee on when that will come out because we have to do some investigating with our homeowners’ associations as you heard,” he added.

The proposed ordinance would have similar consequences to someone violating a dog or cat rule.

Bartley called chickens “friendly,” “social,” “low maintenance,” and “quiet.”

“Typically, chickens are not noisy animals. The roosters are known more for their crowing,” she said.

When hens lay eggs, they squawk at around 60 decibels, she said. That compares to a barking dog at 90 dB or lawnmowers from 80 to 100, she said.

Other cities that allow chickens, like Blaine and Shakopee, haven’t had many chicken-related complains, she said.

“Cities don’t have an issue with getting the police called on their chickens. Usually things work out for themselves,” Bartley said.

She addressed other concerns like public health, and said there have been six cases of salmonella in Minnesota this year.

“Typically, backyard coops can be attractive and clean,” Bartley said. “People take pride in having it be an attractive part of their yard.”

She also said five hens generally create less manure than one medium-sized dog.

Some people may worry the changed ordinance would create an influx of chicken-owners, but Bartley said that isn’t the case in Eden Prairie.

The city started allowing chickens in 2017 and has just 15 registered coops.

“Being able to live sustainably has never been a right that has been more prevalent,” Bartley said. “We just can’t imagine living in another community, so we’re hoping that a small change could just really liven this city.”

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