The chicken dance is finished in North Branch

Council approves updates to ordinance

The chicken dance is over in North Branch.

At its May 13 meeting, the North Branch City Council approved an update to its animal ordinance that allows residents to own chickens on parcels of land 1 acre or larger.

The previous ordinance required at least 5 acres to house chickens.

The Planning Commission had been tweaking the ordinance for months before the council made its 4-1 decision — Councilmember Trent Jensen cast the dissenting vote.

City Planner Ken Roberts explained there are conditions a homeowner must meet before being allowed to own chickens on his or her property.

He noted:

• Coops shall not be located in a drainage or utility easement, shoreline protection area or in a setback area.

• The city does not allow the keeping of free-range chickens on properties less than 10 acres in size.

• The owners of the chickens shall maintain the coops and/or enclosures.

• Animal feed must be properly stored.

• All animal waste must be disposed in an appropriate manner.

Jensen, noting that he knew he was outnumbered before the vote was taken, said he didn’t think making the change was in the best interest of the city.

“I don’t like the idea,” he said. “If we want to attract people from the cities, they don’t necessarily want to move next to chickens.”

Councilmember Kathy Blomquist suggested the council revisit the ordinance in a year to ensure it’s working as intended.

She suggested city staff visit the coops on the smaller acreage properties next year and report back to the city council with their findings.

She made that suggestion into a motion that the council passed unanimously.

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