COOP (Chicken Owners Outside Philadelphia)
COOP (Chicken Owners Outside Philadelphia)

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Chickens may come home to roost in St. Paul

Source: Star Tribune
Date: August 15, 2009
Byline: Chris Havens

The city might make it easier for residents to keep the birds.

A typical summer evening scene in a St. Paul neighborhood:

A woman walks her dog. A neighbor lights charcoal for the grill. Cars putter by. Chickens scratch, peck and cluck in a hedge by the sidewalk.

"The girls are out, huh?" a passerby says to Anna Yust, who owns the chickens.

She smiled. That kind of interaction is exactly what she likes about having hens at her West End home.

For a variety of reasons, more people, like Yust, want to raise chickens in the city. Some want to get closer to their food source. Others just like having poultry for pets.

St. Paul officials are considering whether to make it easier for residents to take chickens under their wings. An ordinance change to be introduced Wednesday would allow residents to keep as many as three hens without requiring neighbors' approval.

Roosters are forbidden, because of noise and fighting concerns.

The proposed ordinance changes, sponsored by Council Member Russ Stark, were spurred by community interest.

Some big cities, such as Atlanta, New York and Seattle, let residents keep chickens. Elsewhere, community groups are pushing for laws allowing urban chickens.

Locally, Minneapolis allows residents to raise chickens; so do Anoka, Burnsville and a few other suburbs. Hastings last week decided against allowing chickens in residential neighborhoods.

Folks against city chickens raise concerns about noise, smells, cleanliness and public health. Some think chickens simply don't belong in the city.

Proponents disagree, saying that chickens provide eggs, cut down on trash because they eat almost anything and aren't that loud.

The changes

Chickens have been allowed in St. Paul for a while, but owners must get a license and the consent of their neighbors. Prospective chicken-keepers need approval of 75 percent of neighbors who live within 150 feet of their property.

The new ordinance would do away with the consent requirement for three or fewer hens.