Backyard chickens approved by city council

Posted 7/21/21

Watering restrictions are put into place By John McLoone After more than a decade of deliberation, backyard chickens will be legal in Hastings. The Hastings City Council voted 5-2 Monday night after …

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Backyard chickens approved by city council


Watering restrictions are put into place

By John McLoone

After more than a decade of deliberation, backyard chickens will be legal in Hastings.

The Hastings City Council voted 5-2 Monday night after about an hour-and-ahalf long public hearing.

The ordinance amendment means that up to four chickens are allowable on residential properties. Lots of more than an acre can have an additional chicken per quarter acre. Roosters aren’t allowed under the ordinance. A $75 permit will be required to own the birds, and that license is good for five years. The chickens need to have a building to shelter the chickens and an enclosed outdoor area. The building has to comply with city accessory building requirements.

The council defeated a similar proposal in 2019, but several councilmembers stated that they feel the opinions toward having chickens in the community has changed since then. After a public hearing in June, the city planning commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of the ordinance amendment.

A petition drive garnered more than 250 signatures of Hastings residents in support of allowing backyard chickens.

“On behalf of the 258 Hastings citizens who signed our petition, I ask you to vote yes to this,” said Kori Colvin.

Her comments were followed up by Glenda Schnirring, who was one of a few speaking in opposition.

“This chicken thing isn’t what brought me out of the house. Hastings is what brought me out of the house, when it’s in jeopardy in any way,” she said.

She said there would be a possibility that homes are surrounded on three sides by neighbors with chicken pens within five feet of the property line.

“Why would we ever do that? The value of neighborhood harmony is priceless,” said Schnirring. “It would not be an asset to attract new people to our community.”

Brian Winkler countered with, “It’s the way of the times. There will be a lot of good, positive things that come from this. It will be a fun experience.”

Several people talked about the educational aspects of teaching children to raise chickens, as well as the benefits to consuming the fresh eggs. One resident showed how Japanese beetles are eating plans, pointing out how many insects chickens consume.

Laine Johnson Crump, president of Hastings Environmental Protectors, said, “It’s a big benefit to children and adults as well as helping us learn the natural world.”

Marty Weber said he has no intention of raising chickens but thinks people should have the freedom to.

“It’s about allowing people to have chickens. Having the freedom to have chickens is important,” he said.

One speaker asked residents to be surveyed or a referendum vote to be held. See CHICKENS Page 3 Chickens

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Winkler responded that the matter has received plenty of publicity in the community.

“It’s had tons of exposure. It’s been on the front page of the paper. Every time I go to Coborn’s, I see it sitting right there,” he said.

Council members who voted in opposition – Mark Vaughn and Trevor Lund – brought up the opinion that there should be a provision in the permit process where neighbors are notified.

“I go back and forth on this. We’ve been talking about this a long time. Why would you not have the neighbor at least have a say?” Vaughn asked.

Lund also wanted to see a little time before the ordinance is put in place so homeowner’s associations could have time to react to the ordinance by perhaps passing their own rules.

Community Development Director John Hinzman said that other cities that allow chickens have had very few problems, so the notification provision wasn’t put in the ordinance amendment.

“We decided as a staff not to come forward with that,” he said.

Several councilmembers voiced the opinion that they aren’t going to start raising chickens themselves, but they think it’s something the community wants.

Perhaps the quote of the night went to councilmember Lori Braucks. “I already have to take care of two dogs, two kids and a husband. That’s enough for me,” she said. “The tide is turning, though, with the level of interest.”

Watering restrictions – The city council voted unanimously to put restrictions on water use.

Public Works Director Nick Egger said the emergency ordinance is necessary because the area is in a state of drought that is approaching “severe” status.

“I don’t think it’s any secret we’re in a drought,” Egger said. The restrictions will be in effect until the drought is over. He predicts the community would need 4-5 inches of rain in the next month to replenish the aquifer.

“I don’t see that happening,” he said.

Under the rules, watering will be allowed on odd-even days, depending on house number. Also, no watering can be done from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

He said to start with, residents not following the restriction will receive a warning with a door-hanger at their house.

If problems persist, a fine of $50 with $80 in court costs can be imposed.

Kori Colvin addressed the Hastings City Council, one of many speakers at a public hearing Monday night. Photo by John McLoone.