Council considers chicken ban challenge

At their most recent meeting, Tuesday, October 17, Maple Lake City Council members were prompted by resident Susan Anderson to consider a change in a city ordinance and allow chickens to be kept within city limits.
Responding in person to an ordinance violation notice, Anderson contended that as fowl, chickens should not be “lumped in” with livestock restrictions, but rather, should be considered as pets.
In a letter to the city council sent prior to the meeting, Anderson noted that backyard hens differ from livestock in that they are not kept with roosters, not used for breeding, that eggs are not sold, and that the number of hens would be too small to constitute a profitable venture in either eggs or meat.
In addition to their “tame, friendly and entertaining personalities,” Anderson maintained that backyard hens contribute to a greener lifestyle by controlling insect pests, improving lawns and providing eggs, adding that pet chickens are “a great way to teach children where food comes from and how to care for animals.”
Purchasing her six chicks as one-day-olds in April 2016, Anderson said she raised them in her Birch Avenue home until they were 12 weeks of age. Each has a name and distinct personality, and they have been talked to and handled since the day she brought them home. Currently they reside in her backyard, confined to a chain link dog run with an attached coop, protected above by a roof and below by a patio block floor wrapped in chicken wire. The coop, she said, is well -entilated and regularly cleaned. She beds it with pine shavings that, she says, once soiled, make excellent compost for her vegetable gardens, fruit bushes and trees. Food and scratch are kept in lidded cans, and the run, coop and nesting boxes are locked with padlocks to maintain the birds’ safety. In her letter, Anderson wrote that her chickens do not wander into others’ yards and cause problems, as some city-sanctioned pets are wont to do, adding that one of her neighbors has told Anderson she “loves the sound of my chickens.”

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