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St. Paul Park considers chicken, bee ordinances

St. Paul Park City Council member Jennifer Cheesman wants to explore relaxing the city's animal restrictions to allow more people to keep chickens on their property.

At a workshop last week, the council discussed the keeping of chickens and honey bees on residential property.

Residents are allowed to have four chickens if the coop, or accessory building, is 300 feet from neighbors' homes. Reducing the distance to 50 feet and 10 feet from the owner's property line makes more sense, Cheesman said.

Mayor Keith Franke said he would go along with changing the distance if the keeper of chickens has permission from neighbors.

"Chickens are smelly," he said.

Currently, residents are allowed to have up to four chickens, but no roosters, and the animals must be in a building or enclosure. Breeding, animal sales, slaughtering, cock fights and egg sales are prohibited.

The same rules also apply to residents who keep pigeons.

No more than three dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks, geese or turkeys more than four months old are allowed in residential areas, according to the city's animal ordinance.

The city doesn't allow people to keep honey bees, which are becoming a popular hobby for people who want organic foods.

With permission from neighbors, bee-keeping might be allowed, Franke said. However, he wondered about a scenario in which a bee-keeper's neighbor is allergic to bees.

"But bees are everywhere," Cheesman said.

But the city would be allowing it if it were in an ordinance, Franke said.

Council member Sandi Dingle is opposed to allowing bee keeping.

"I remember when we didn't allow any farm animals," said council member Tim Jones.

But some people want to grow their own food and keep some animals, Cheesman said.

"It's called farming," Dingle said.

City Administrator Kevin Walsh said, after checking with several cities, getting permission from neighbors typically is not part of the approval process.

"Either cities allow it, or they don't," he said in an interview.

Cheesman's suggestions will be heard by the St. Paul Park Planning Commission, probably in March, Walsh said.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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