After being cooped up for a few weeks, the citizens of Mora will now be able to keep chickens. On Tuesday, Oct. 15 the City Council approved a Text Amendment to allow chickens to be owned within city limits.

On Aug. 20, the Council initially advanced an amendment to the City Planning Commission for public comment and evaluation. The Commission convened a public hearing on Sept. 9, where it unanimously approved the amendment with these requirements:

Chickens will be allowed in residential districts R-1, R-3 and R-4, on properties with single-family homes.

No more than three hens will be allowed; roosters are prohibited.

A coop and a fenced run or exercise yard are required; they must be located in side or rear yards, and must meet the same setback requirements for utility or storage structures.

A coop must be at least six square feet in size; a run must be at least 16 square feet if an exercise yard is available, 32 square feet if not.

Letters of support from adjacent property owners are required with the application.

Renters must obtain written consent from the property owner.

Chickens will be allowed upon administrative site plan review approval. The current fee for site plan review is $50, but is subject to change annually in January.

Chickens are prohibited from running at large.

The Commission sent the amendment back to the Council, approving a final vote. On Sept. 17 the Council returned it to the Commission, citing concerns about coop sizes, zoning and what would happen if chickens escaped their yards.

Structural, zoning and enforcement issues

The Planning Commission convened on Oct. 7 and made these changes to the amendment.

Coop and run sizes: The commission reviewed recommended coop sizes provided by the University of Minnesota Extension Service, as well as chicken regulations from other communities. As most do not have a height requirement, the commission recommended that the height requirement for coops and runs be eliminated altogether.

Zoning: The commission recommended that chickens be allowed in all zoning districts with the understanding that letters of support will be required from all adjacent property owners, and renters will be required to provide written consent from the property owner. The commission understands that work is required on the current definition of “single-family dwelling,” and this will begin in the near future.

Enforcement: The commission recommended that chickens be leg-banded to help address the potential issue. Bands are inexpensive, and would be covered by the proposed application fee. Staff will provide the applicant with the necessary number of leg bands, and will record the band numbers on the permit so that owners of chickens-at-large could easily be identified. The commission further recommended that chicken owners be responsible for reimbursing the city for any expenses incurred when dealing with nuisance chickens.

Thus revised, the amendment was returned to the Council for consideration. At its Oct. 15 meeting the council unanimously passed the amendment, adding a “one-warning” policy (before revocation) for owners whose chickens create a public nuisance.

The next Council meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 19 at City Hall.

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