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Hastings considers allowing chickens in residential neighborhoods

Hastings is looking to cock-a-doodle-do something about the ordinance that governs what animals people are allowed to keep in residential areas.

At the June 22 Hastings Planning Commission meeting, the commission tabled a request from the LeDuc Historic Estate to keep 12 chickens on its property as a living exhibit that'd highlight the agricultural side of the LeDuc family's life.

The proposal as it was brought forward Monday night was to allow chickens in the public institutions zone, which the LeDuc property is classified as. Shortly after the LeDuc made its request, however, a Hastings resident inquired about keeping chickens on her property, which is in a residential zone. And there have been other, similar inquiries from citizens over the past year about keeping chickens.

When zoning codes were originally adopted in Hastings in the first half of the 20th century, farm animals became restricted to land zoned agricultural. Most homes in Hastings are in residential zones.

According to a memo from the planning department to the planning commission, in the past decade, many cities have modified their ordinances to allow chickens in non-agricultural zones for reasons that range from social to economic.

Some nearby cities that allow chickens in residential areas are Rosemount, Burnsville, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Anoka and Duluth. Large cities like Los Angeles, Boston, Houston, Chicago and Seattle also allow chickens.

According to the memo, the way chickens are regulated in those cities varies greatly. For example, in Roseville, Minn., chickens are classified as suburban hobby pets and have little regulation. Minneapolis allows them by administrative permit as long as the applicant has at least 80 percent written approval from neighbors within 100 feet.

Some conditions the planning department sought to put on people wishing to keep chickens in public institution zones included limiting the number of chickens to no more than 20 and trying to define the structure they'd be kept in.

As part of the proposal, planning director John Hinzman said roosters wouldn't be allowed in residential areas. It's the male roosters, not the female hens that are known to crow at dawn.

Steve Theriault, a Hastings resident and recently retired member of the Dakota County Sheriff's Department, said in 29 years on the job, he doesn't ever remember responding to a noise complaint about chickens, but that the department responds to several complaints about loud dogs every day. He spoke at the meeting and said he hopes the city goes through with the proposal.

The planning commission voted to table the change so the planning department could draft a new version of the ordinance that includes allowing chickens in residential as well as public institution zones.

The planning department will review ordinances from other cities during the process of drafting a revised ordinance for Hastings. It could be back in front of the planning commission at its July 13 meeting.